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

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 garage.

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.