Historic greenhouse to become new learning lab

The Brucemore site will get a $250,000 make-over

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CEDAR RAPIDS – The first step was taken Monday, Aug. 22, to open a new learning laboratory in a nearly century old structure.

Ground was broken for the Lord & Burnham Greenhouse rehabilitation project at the Brucemore Mansion, 2160 Linden Dr. SE.

“It’s taken time to come to fruition,” Tom Amosson, president of Brucemore’s Board of Trustees, said of the greenhouse project, the last of the estate’s historic buildings in need of stabilization and rehabilitation.

Lord & Burnham was the premier greenhouse company in the United States and Canada at the time the structure was built by the Douglas family in 1915.

Brucemore gardeners used the greenhouse until 2006.

The $250,000 project, paid for through grants and donations, will transform the skeleton that remains of the greenhouse into a learning center at the heart of the historic estate.

Brucemore assistant director Maura Pilcher said the LAB, for Lord & Burnham, will be a learning laboratory, with the public invited to participate in on-site projects.

Interactive programs will be offered in the potting house, or head-house, while the glasshouse portion will provide growing space for community organizations.

Pilcher said interpretive panels also will be set up throughout the 26-acre estate so visitors can learn more about the site. Some of those will be available to view during Saturday’s Brucemore Garden and Art Show, she said.

Once completed, the greenhouse will be free to visitors.

Todd Sabin, owner of Four Prong of Cedar Rapids, the general contractor for the project, said the rehabilitation should be completed by November.

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