Falling in Love with Brucemore

Heritage Reflections

On a Sunday afternoon as mid-May gets ready to bow gracefully to the end of the flowering month, the Lilacs are at peak bloom on a little ridge overlooking the main house and the garden house at Brucemore. It is here in the shade, with the heavenly smell of flowers that deserve more than one month's glory, that I have chosen to sit and reflect upon the beauty of Brucemore.

Once a lovely country estate outside the bustling city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it is now a bucolic oasis in the middle of a reviving and thriving community. The traffic of First Avenue is not far, and a lively neighborhood now surrounds the acres, but Brucemore offers its own stillness and respite, and if there is any space where time has the possibility of standing still, it is here.

Tucked in this little corner of the property, an historian's mind can wander freely. As the wind whispers through the tops of the trees, and the birdsongs render any need of modern music and diversion unnecessary, it is easy to understand the magic of this space, and why the Halls would want to ensure it was both preserved and shared. It's an amazing gift.

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For me, as I close my eyes and consider the grounds, my mind first wanders back to the days of the Sinclair's, and the visions of children playing over the grounds. The Douglas Era also holds a particular fascination as I consider Mrs. Douglas looking to the property with the desire to make it her own. The parties and gatherings that occurred and afforded the guests opportunities to wander over the grounds, echoing peals of laughter through the sounds of music, and the tinkling of chipped ice in glasses that sparkle in the sun create a wondrous vision indeed.

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But as I open my eyes to take in the surroundings, the architecture that peaks through the dancing trees, the birds that fill the air with both flight and song, the gardens and landscaping that both demand attention and fill the spaces with beauty, I am struck by the richness of content this property holds.

Upon my first visit to Brucemore in the Fall of 2012, I immediately felt a peace and connection that I most closely associate with my childhood home. Each subsequent visit to the property has only deepened that feeling, and as I continue to dig into its history and presence, I am only further convinced that this is only the beginning for me. There is no doubt of the heritage of Brucemore, but I am even more convinced that it has just begun to articulate its legacy, and I fully intend to follow that story for as long as I can.