Brucemore's Historic Landscape

Brucemore's bucolic landscape- with its rolling yards, soaring trees, timber-lined pond and stunning gardens- is more than a beautiful setting. It exhibits more than 130 years of history.

Sinclair Era Landscape


When Caroline Sinclair began building her home in 1884, the property was in the countryside beyond the city limits of Cedar Rapids. Timber, prairie, and farmland surrounded the estate.

The Sinclairs were among thousands of wealthy and middle-class families throughout the nation who moved from towns and cities to the countryside.

During the nineteenth century, people idealized the fresh air, scenery, and inherent morality of rural settings in contrast to the increasingly industrialized and crowded cities. Well-tended country farmsteads represented an ideal of bygone days.

Douglas Era Landscape


The Douglas family made a series of significant changes that transformed the property into a model country estate. They expanded the acreage from ten to 33 and added many of the physical features still visible today.

The Douglas family was also responsible for hiring landscape architect, O.C. Simonds. Simonds embraced a philosophy of prairie landscape design that celebrated plantings as they exist in nature through a series of "outdoor rooms" and vistas.

Hall Era Landscape


The Halls used Brucemore and its grounds in different ways than their predecessors. The landscape served more as a background for their lives and reflected the fact that they were a childless couple who engaged in fewer activities on the grounds of the estate.

They sold off several acres to the north adjacent to the First Avenue driveway and several acres bordering Forest Drive. This reduced the 33-acre estate to its present size of 26 acres.