Ceremonial 'wall-breaking' kicks off renovations at The History Center in Cedar Rapids

Adam Ebert, president of The History Center board, swings a gold sledgehammer Tuesday for the ceremonial “wall-breaking” to kick off renovations of the Douglas Mansion, future home of The History Center in Cedar Rapids. The $3.9 renovation of the home at 800 Second Ave. SE was made possible through donations, grants and historic preservation tax credits. The renovation is expected to take nine months and will provide permanent and temporary galleries, a research library, a classroom and offices. (Liz Martin, The Gazette)
Adam Ebert, president of The History Center board, swings a gold sledgehammer Tuesday for the ceremonial “wall-breaking” to kick off renovations of the Douglas Mansion, future home of The History Center in Cedar Rapids. The $3.9 renovation of the home at 800 Second Ave. SE was made possible through donations, grants and historic preservation tax credits. The renovation is expected to take nine months and will provide permanent and temporary galleries, a research library, a classroom and offices. (Liz Martin, The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The History Center had a ceremonial “wall-breaking” ceremony at the Douglas Mansion on Tuesday to mark the beginning of the 1897 home’s rehabilitation as the new location for the center.

The $3.9 million renovation was made possible through donations, grants and historic preservation tax credits.

The home, built at 800 Second Ave. SE in what was then the “Mansion Hill” district, was the home of George Bruce Douglas, who began the Douglas Starch Works in 1903 and whose father started what would become Quaker Oats.

The mansion became the Turner Funeral Home in 1924, renovated with the help of Iowa artist Grant Wood, who landscaped the grounds and who would live rent-free in a studio above the gagarge.

The History Center, formerly the Linn County Historical Society, bought the home in 2014. When renovated, it will have a research library, a permanent exhibit gallery, two temporary galleries, a classroom and offices.

The restoration is expected to take about nine months.

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