Historic Buildings & Areas


1214 & 1216 2nd Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
The Calder Houses are historic houses that were built in 1868. The two identical houses were built by Charles Calder, who moved to Cedar Rapids, IA from the state of New York in 1851. He was involved in real estate and land speculation and at the time of his death in 1890, he held a significant amount of real estate in the city. The houses are two-story front gable cottages. The brick structures are built on stone foundations. They are among the oldest houses in Cedar Rapids.


1120 2nd Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
The Averill House was built in the late 1800’s and shows Late Victorian style Architechure. The architect, builder, or engineer is Fulkerson, W. A. Smith, Sidney. It was built as a single family dwelling for Arthur Tappen Averill. A.T. Averill was the founder and owner of Cedar Rapids Gas, now known as MidAmerican. At the time it was built it marked the edge of town and the mansion was built with a tower so the family could view the country side. The property stayed in the Averill family for many years which allowed it to escape the demolition that many other mansions fell prey to. In the 1950’s the house was used by St. Luke’s Hospital as a women’s dormitory. The Averill House is now being used for law offices.


800 2nd Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
The Douglas House is a Colonial Revival built in 1897 by George B. Douglas. It was built on the 800 block of Second Avenue known as the Mansion Hill District. It was built as a single family dwelling. This is the home that the Douglas family and the Sinclair family swapped for Brucemore. George B. Douglas’ father was one of the founders of Quaker Oats, while he founded the Douglas Starch Works. What is most intriguing about this home is that famous artist, Grant Wood, spent a good part of his life living in and around Cedar Rapids and lived in the second floor of the carriage house behind this home. He actually painted many of his famous pieces while living here. In 1924, the building became the John B. Turner Funeral Home and remained as such for 80 years. In 2011 the funeral home closed this location.


800 2nd Avenue (5 Turner Alley), Cedar Rapids, IA
This building orginally was part of the George B. Douglas mansion and was used to house the horses and carriages. Grant Wood Studio is a member of Historic artist, homes and studios, a program of the NATIONAL TRUST for HISTORICAL PRESEVERSATION. In 1923, John B. Turner, who established his mortuary business in 1888, and his son David Turner acquired both properties from the Sinclairs and were converted into Turner Mortuary. It opened to the public in 1924 and The Gazette reports Grant Wood “was responsible for the decorating and furnishing of the interior and the landscaping of the grounds. He not only personally supervised the work, but also did much of it himself.” Wood also designed the iron gates at the front entrance. The brick barn in the rear of the property was converted into a “modern garage, with space for six cars.” In 1924, at the suggestion of the Turners, Wood begins to build a studio and residence above the garage. The ability to live rent-free meant Wood could eventually give up teaching at McKinley High School. The Community Players produced their first play before a tiny audience in Grant Wood’s studio, starting the theater group that became today’s Theatre Cedar Rapids. The alley located behind both the Douglas Mansion and Carriage House was named “5 Turner Alley”. It is believed to be the only alley in Cedar Rapids that has been given a name. The carriage house, (Grant Wood’s Studio) and the mansion were divided into two separate properties. The studio looks like it did when Grant Wood lived there. In 2004, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art opened the studio to the public and offers free tours.


845 First Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
The Ausadie building was built in 1923 as an apartment building designed by William J. Brown and shows Colonial Revival and Bungalow Craftsman Architecture. This building was built by Austin Palmer. Austin Palmer was well known for the  “Palmer Method of Handwriting.” This was a style of penmanship that was taught in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe. He also created the Cedar Rapids Business College. He named the building AUSADIE by combining his first name, Austin, and his wife’s name, Sadie. The building still operates as an apartment building and has been modernized, but special care was given to keep its original charm. It offers its tenants one of the few green spaces left in the area, often called “THE SECRET GARDEN,” which is host to flower gardens, a Roman shaped swimming pool, and koi pond.