The Douglas Era Mansion: 1906-1937
Grant Wood at Brucemore
Irene Douglas, the Douglas family's primary patron of the arts, had the financial resources as well as access to purchase art from all over the country — instead, her art collection reflects her support of local artists and friends. As evidenced by entries in her journals, Irene worked and socialized with Grant Wood during his career prior to painting the iconic American Gothic in 1930.
In 1925, Irene hired him to decorate her daughter's sleeping porch. Sleeping porches were viewed as a healthy way to connect with the outdoors and offered relief from hot summer nights in un-airconditioned homes. An entry in the family check register, shown above, indicates she paid Wood $182 for this work.
Decorated in a plaster relief depicting curving vines, flowers, birds, and animals, the Grant Wood Porch offers a unique opportunity to see the artist's versatility and skill.
The personal connection between the Douglas family and Grant Wood's early career is underscored by the fact that from 1924 to 1935, Wood's studio at 5 Turner Alley occupied the building that originally served as the Douglas family's carriage house. The Douglases lived at the house on 2nd Avenue and 8th Street SE before moving to Brucemore in 1906. Irene's passion for the arts made this rather incidental association more powerful.
The most committed and generous of Grant Wood's patrons was David Turner, a successful mortician and civic booster. In the mid-1920s, Turner encouraged Wood to begin supporting himself solely through art and freelance interior design projects. Wood crafted interior details and décor that still survives in Brucemore and other local homes.
From landscapes with rolling farm fields to depictions of American folktales, Grant Wood's best known works of art observed the world and community he understood so well.
- Grant Wood Studio & Douglas Mansion Chronology from the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
- Grant Wood Digital Collection from the University of Iowa's Figge Art Museum
- Conserving the Grant Wood Sleeping Porch
Be sure to check out other image galleries showcasing Brucemore's fascinating history:
- Meet the Douglas Family: Two generations of profound influence on Cedar Rapids history.
- Explore the Estate: Douglas-era and modern images of Brucemore's famous gardens and grounds.
- Tour the Mansion: A virtual tour inside the Mansion depicting changes made by Brucemore families.
- Browse Our Collections: Detailed views and descriptions of some of Brucemore's art and artifacts.
- Saving the Lord & Burnham Greenhouse: An extensive rehabilitation preserved the 1915 structure.