The Sinclair Era Mansion: 1884-1906
Queen Anne style: Eclectic domestic architecture
"The building is a grand one, an ornament and source of pride to the city...."
In February 1886, the Cedar Rapids Republican described the house under the title, "A Palatial Home: A Description of the Handsomest and Most Costly Home Ever Built in Cedar Rapids — the Just Completed Mansion of Mrs. T. M. Sinclair." The article stated:
The driveway from the street stretches up to the main entrance of the house and passes under a porte-cochère. This entrance is toward the boulevard. Broad stone steps lead up to the room porch, from which the vestibule and main hall are reached.
The foundation above the ground is of dark blue sandstone, laid in courses, with the face of the stone left rough and free from tool marks, and the windows of the basement are covered with bold arches of the same material. Above the foundations the walls are of dark red pressed brick, with a few bands of cut stone of the same color as the basement stone.
The windows, arches and caps in the stills are of the same kind of stone. The projecting portion of the work about the front is ornamented with some carved conventionalized foliage. The walls are three stories in height, and some portions of the third story are covered with colored slating, while further variety is given to the wall surface by panels of ornamental brick and some panels of colored stucco and glass stucco work.
The chimneys are, in most cases, in the outside walls, and each one is situated differently, giving a charming variety in the whole and giving variety to the sky line. The tops are tastefully finished in stone that imparts a durable air to a part too frequently neglected.
Projecting oriels lend their charm to the exterior and afford excellent points of view from the interior. Balconies and porches on the front and west are located so that they can be reached from several rooms.
The words used to describe the northern elevation of the Mansion — rough stone, arches, bands of cut stone, ornamented, colored slating, variety, ornamental brick, finished stone, oriels — provide clues to the architectural style of the building.
The Queen Anne style is an eclectic style of domestic architecture popular from the 1870s through the 1910s. It blends Tudor, Gothic, English Renaissance, and American Colonial architecture to create a heavily adorned picturesque building.
Buildings of this style are asymmetrical with irregularly shaped roofs. Contrasting wall materials such as slate, patterned clapboards, half-timbering, stucco, terra cotta, and brick distinguish stories in addition to bays.
Only five percent of Queen Anne houses utilize patterned brickwork and stonework with little wood detail like the mansion at Brucemore. Visitors can find several terra-cotta and stone panels inset throughout the walls, especially on the west elevation.
The majority of the wood detail is found on the recessed or integral porches and oriel windows, also Queen Anne hallmarks. Patterned masonry chimneys and carved chimney caps extend the embellishment to the heights of the house.
This style fell out of favor among America’s elite in the early twentieth century as other styles competed. Consequently, the Douglas family’s renovations included more Craftsman style details than Queen Anne.
A closer look at Queen Anne style....
Select a photo for detailed views and descriptions of some notable highlights of Queen Anne design at Brucemore.
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: The 1886 originals were removed and recreated to preserve the unique designs.