The Sinclair Era Mansion: 1884-1906
Luxury and technology: Staying up-to-date
In November of 1886, after two years of construction, the Sinclair family moved into the home. Located two miles from downtown, the Mansion overlooked the city from the top of a gently sloping hill.
Totaling $55,000, the Sinclair Mansion was the most expensive building project in Cedar Rapids in 1885, costing more than these other notable local structures and residences that year: Masonic Library ($40,000); First United Presbyterian Church ($10,000); A.T. Averill's residence and barn ($19,000); A. B. George's residence ($10,000); and A. C. Taylor's residence ($9,000).
Although expensive for Cedar Rapids, the cost of the Mansion was similar to those on other country estates at that time. More than half of the homes built within ten years of the Sinclair Mansion listed in Artistic Country-Seats (1886-87) cost from $50,000 to $60,000.
Detailed descriptions of the home printed in the Cedar Rapids Republican reflected the curiosity of local residents:
Entering the house at the front, a broad hall is reached from the vestibule. Directly in front of the entrance and at the rear of this hall is the main staircase, with a landing the length of the width of the hall and midway between the two stories.
On the landing are windows filled with rich colored antique glass. Under the landing a view is had of the conservatory, which in the winter, when filled with plants and flowers, will add much to the beauty of the hall. To the right of the entrance door is the parlor, a fine room finished in California redwood.
At right angles to the main hall and immediately back of the parlor, with a large doorway into it and another into the library, is the sitting room hall. This has an octagonal end, with a fire place in the center of the octagon and a window on either side, one of which looks out onto the street and the other toward the south, with communication onto a side porch and garden entrance.
Back of this hall is the library, with a fire place in a bay window looking south, from the windows of which views are to the south and west, and one window looks into the conservatory. There will be seats fitted up on either side of the fire place with bookshelves under the windows, near at hand. This bay will be a bright and cheerful place on wintry days.
Around the walls are permanent bookshelves and cases. This room is finished in birch. To the left of the entrance door is the dining room wainscotted and finished in oak, with a fireplace of dark red brick in a recess, with a mantel of oak to match the finish of the room. In the center of the mantel is a window of stained glass, on either side of which are cabinets.
The Mansion's most remarkable features at the time of construction involved the technology, which reveals not only Caroline's wealth, but Cedar Rapids's ability to provide such services. When completed in 1886, the Mansion had all of the latest luxuries: running water, steam heat, gas lighting, sewage disposal, a fireplace in nearly every room, eight bathrooms, burglar alarms, call bells, and fire alarms.
Be sure to check out other image galleries showcasing Brucemore's fascinating history:
- Meet the Sinclair Family: The estate's first owner was a widow with six children.
- Explore the Estate: Images of Brucemore’s gardens and grounds throughout history.
- Tour the Mansion: A virtual tour inside the Mansion depicting changes made by Brucemore families.
- Browse Our Collections: Detailed views and descriptions of Brucemore’s artifacts.
- Saving the Chimney Caps: 1886 originals removed and recreated to preserve unique design.