Home for the Holidays: Virtual Artifact Exhibit

December 2nd, 2021
christmas tree

In December 1906, the Douglas family moved to Brucemore, an 1880s estate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. With them, the family brought their own traditions and celebrations which influenced the way they observed holidays at their home for the next three decades.

George and Irene Douglas, along with their daughters – Margaret, Ellen, and Barbara – celebrated many Christmases at Brucemore. On Christmas Eve, the mansion was decorated with greenery, a tree, and stockings. The Douglas women often spent the day delivering baskets to friends and community members in need. On Christmas day, the daughters opened their stockings in an upstairs room before going downstairs to the library to open gifts as a family. Later, the family enjoyed a formal dinner.

During her teenage years, the oldest of the children, Margaret Douglas, often hosted a holiday party at Brucemore. Because Margaret attended a boarding school in New York, this party was an opportunity to reunite with many of her friends for dancing, games, and refreshments.

These Christmas celebrations were made possible by the large team of servants who worked on the estate. The head gardener, for instance, was recruited to assist with the holiday décor and Christmas greenery. The season required additional work for the servants. The cooks were responsible for making elaborate dinners while additional guests necessitated extra cleaning for other staff.

In the days following Christmas, the decorations and tree were removed. As the new year approached, the Douglas family often traveled. For many years, the Douglas family enjoyed the sunny climate of Santa Barbara, California. During the winters they chose to stay in Iowa, however, the family enjoyed snowy sleigh rides, walks in snowshoes, sledding, and ice skating on the estate.

When Margaret Douglas Hall inherited her childhood home, she and her husband, Howard, brought new traditions to Brucemore. Today, Brucemore continues to showcase the family traditions through tours and programs.

View the virtual exhibit of holiday-themed objects from Brucemore’s collection.



Do I need to pay to enter the estate and walk on the grounds?

No. Visiting the Brucemore estate during grounds hours is free. Tickets are only required for scheduled tours and events, and they can be purchased in advance online.

Is a reservation needed to visit Brucemore?

You do not need a reservation to visit the grounds on your own. You do need a ticket to go inside the mansion. We recommend advance reservations for any of our mansion tours or other scheduled special themed tours due to limited capacity. Please visit our calendar to see upcoming opportunities and to purchase your tickets.

Touring the Mansion

Can I take pictures inside the mansion?

Yes. Photography is allowed during tours for personal, non-professional use. Tripods, selfie-sticks, or other photography equipment will not be permitted. Photographs should not distract from others’ enjoyment.

How large is the mansion?

Brucemore is approximately 15,000 square feet.

How many fireplaces, rooms, and floors does Brucemore have?

There are 21 “main” rooms, 14 fireplaces and four floors plus an attic.

Is all of the furniture original to the house and families?

Much of the furniture you will see on display belonged to the second or third families to live at Brucemore; however, some pieces had to be replaced with replicas or similar antiques.

Is the mansion handicap accessible?

The Brucemore mansion includes multiple floors and several staircases. Because of the historic architecture, some spaces are not accessible. Due to preservation work, the wheelchair lift that offers accessibility to the first floor is not available at this time. An elevator is not available from the first floor to the other floors at any time. Learn more about accessibility at Brucemore.

Group and School Tours

Is there an age requirement for students visiting Brucemore?

You do not have to be a certain age to visit or attend a program at Brucemore. Different programs are best suited for different ages. Tours of the mansion are recommended for 4th grade and older due to the concepts and historic collection.

Where do we park?

Parking is available on site a short walk from the mansion or carriage house. Buses must follow special instructions. Large events may not be able to accommodate on-site parking; please see the event calendar information for exceptions.

Is bus parking available?

Yes. Bus parking is available near the carriage house. Buses must arrive via special directions as they are unable to fit in our historic gates.

Is there a lunch area at Brucemore?

There is not a designated area indoors or outdoors to eat; however, you are welcome to bring your own blanket or chair to picnic on the grounds. Please carry out any trash to help our small staff keep the grounds beautiful.

Does my group have to arrive together?

Please let group members or chaperones know where they can meet the group.

What is your payment policy?

Brucemore admission is to be paid prior to the visit and a deposit may be required. Payment can be made by cash, check, or credit card and should be paid in one sum.

Do I need to make an appointment to tour the mansion?

You must have a ticket to a tour or program inside the mansion. Many tours do sell out in advance; purchase online or by calling 319-362-7375 in advance of your visit to guarantee your spot. See the schedule here.

Is the mansion wheelchair accessible?

The mansion is not currently accessible to wheelchairs due to preservation work. The mansion includes multiple flights of stairs. Most of the outdoor areas of the site are accessible. See our full accessibility information and contact us with additional questions regarding your visit.

Can I walk on the property?

Yes, the grounds and gardens are open daily most of the year. Several self-guided interpretive panels and tours via QR codes are available. See hours here.

What is Brucemore’s ticket policy?

Tickets are non-refundable, but may be rescheduled for comparable programs as space allows. Learn more.

I’m attending a large event at Brucemore. Where do I park?

Large events may require you to park offsite. Please read the event details on the calendar for specific information for each event.

Are weapons allowed at Brucemore?

We prohibit weapons on the property and at programs to ensure the safety and security of all employees and people visiting Brucemore.