The people who lived and worked at Brucemore had a profound impact in shaping the estate and their community. They included business and social leaders, gardeners, care givers, philanthropists, and patrons of the arts. The changes they made to the estate, the impact they had on their community, and the stories they left behind shape our understanding of our community.
The Sinclair Family: 1884 - 1906
Caroline Soutter Sinclair, the estate's first owner, built the mansion between 1884 and 1886 as a home for her six children. Initially called the "Sinclair Mansion" or "Fairhome," the estate symbolized the development of Cedar Rapids as an industrial center.
Caroline's three-story, 21-room home was built on ten acres of land. Located two miles from downtown, the home provided the benefits of country living for her children.
The Douglas Era: 1906 - 1937
In 1906, George and Irene Douglas moved onto the estate with their daughters, Margaret and Ellen. A third daughter, Barbara, was born two years later.
The Douglas family transformed Brucemore and made it a warm and lively home for their young family. They increased the size of the estate from 10 to 33 acres and gave Brucemore its name, drawing on George Bruce Douglas' middle name and his Scottish heritage.
The Hall Era: 1937 - 1981
Margaret and Howard Hall, the last residents of the mansion at Brucemore, brought a modern sense of style and a whimsical spirit to the estate.
A pet lion, the Tahitian Room, and the Grizzly Bar cemented their place in Cedar Rapids folklore.
Their philanthropic nature and influence on the industrial development of the community is evident today.
The Hired Help
From the beginning, servants played an important role in shaping Brucemore. In 1884, when Caroline Sinclair began construction on a mansion, she incorporated into the design spaces for servants, domestic employees who lived and worked on the estate.
Throughout the years, servants kept the estate running, taking on roles such as cook, housekeeper, butler, gardener, chauffeur and nanny.