Derecho Recovery: Conserving Statuary and Gates

December 28th, 2021

The August 10, 2020 derecho caused devastation across the Brucemore estate. Brucemore’s historic gates and outdoor statuary did not escape the wrath of the storm, but soon they will be restored to their former glory.

The historic gates at both Linden Drive and First Avenue are iconic pieces of the estate that have greeted visitors since their installation in 1928. Prior to the storm, they were already in need of preservation. A 2017 survey indicated that both sets had paint loss, corrosion, and were missing their bottom beams. The storm caused significant damage and expedited the need for immediate preservation. This included severe bends caused by falling limbs and flying debris. One of the gates at Linden Drive had to be de-installed in the direct aftermath to allow for access to the roadway. The First Avenue gates were also wrenched out from their piers and no longer aligned properly.

Brucemore Formal Garden Derecho Damage

Both sets of gates had extensive damage to the lamps atop the concrete piers. One of the lamps from the First Avenue gates was knocked off the top of the pier and broken into several parts. The other lamps lost various parts that will have to be recast to be replaced.

Two pieces from Brucemore’s collection of outdoor statuary will also require conservation following the storm. Dancing Children, a bronze cast pedestal crafted by Russian American sculptor Bashka Paeff in 1916, normally rests near the formal garden. A tree felled by the storm landed on its flat top and caused a large dent and numerous scratches. Like the gates, the piece needed some conservation work prior to the storm, but the damage it suffered necessitated more immediate measures. The fawn statue that rests at the south end of the pond suffered abrasions and paint loss. The piece is a replica of the c. 1925 bronze fawn casting located near the formal garden.

All of the pieces identified were examined by Brucemore staff in the aftermath of the storm, and then by KCI Conservation in early 2021. After finding an art handler capable of handling the complexities of the collection, their removal from the estate occurred in late November 2021. Methods & Materials, a Chicago-based fine art installation and rigging company, worked alongside Brucemore staff and KCI Conservation to carefully plan and execute the removal.

Methods & Materials carefully wrapped and packed the lamps and their loose parts. The fawn, which had been excavated by Brucemore staff in the fall, and Dancing Children were also wrapped and placed on a pallet for shipping. The most complex part of the deinstallation process was the removal of the gates. Using a telehandler, the remaining gate at Linden Drive and the two gates at First Avenue were lifted off of their hinges and removed. The sidelights at First Avenue had to be carefully cut from the piers, leaving enough material for them to be rewelded upon their return. Lastly, all gates were carefully loaded onto a flatbed trailer.

All of the materials were sent to the conservators in Minneapolis, where the restoration work will occur. It is expected to be by completed in the spring with reinstallation slated when the warmer weather returns. This work will be funded by insurance, however, there will be gap in funding to cover the estimates of damage to the estate that exceed more than $3 million.

Help with recovery efforts by donating to the Preservation Fund today.



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.