The first museum was located at Eighth Ave and First St. SE in Cedar Rapids. In the 1990’s the Center became a professionally accredited museum and named the museum “The History Center.”
In 1997, a capital campaign began to build a new museum at the recently purchased site at First Ave and Sixth St. SE in downtown Cedar Rapids. The site was formerly Rapids Chevrolet. The new museum was officially opened on June 15, 1999.
The History Center became The Carl & Mary Koehler History Center in 2004, honoring the Koehler’s significant financial contributions.
In late 2014 The History Center bought the Douglas Mansion for its future home.
Planned and constructed in 1895-96, the Douglas Mansion at 800 Second Avenue SE was opened in 1897. It was built as a new home for George Bruce Douglas and his wife Irene in the “Mansion Hill’ district of late 19th Century Cedar Rapids. Mr. Douglas’ father, George Sr., started the Stuart and Douglas Mill in 1873 in Cedar Rapids, later known as the Quaker Oats factory. George B. and his brother Walter began the Douglas Starch Works in 1903, now known as Penford Products. In 1906, the growing Douglas family moved to the Sinclair mansion out “in the country” on First Avenue East and renamed that residence “Brucemore”.
In what amounted to something of a “house swap”, Mrs. Caroline Sinclair moved to the Douglas mansion on Second Avenue SE. She lived here until her death in 1917. Other members of the Sinclair family occupied the 1897 Douglas home until 1923. In 1924, the mansion was sold to the John B. Turner family, who then converted the big house into The Turner Funeral Home. A two story addition was built to the east at this time as well. The old hayloft in the former carriage house at the rear of the Turner property was converted into a residence and art studio for famed artist Grant Wood, childhood friend of John Turner’s son, David.
The Linge family of Cedar Rapids began operating the Turner Funeral Home in the early 1980’s, renaming the facility the Grant Wood Chapel of Cedar Memorial. Funeral services were discontinued in the home several years ago. Following the Flood of 2008, the Douglas Mansion was temporarily home to a few entities impacted by the flood including Theatre Cedar Rapids, which used the mansion for offices. The Douglas Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In its earliest years, the Douglas home was the scene of many important social functions in Cedar Rapids.
The new center should be complete in 2018, until then, the History Center has become "nomadic," with displays available at different locations in Cedar Rapids, including walking tour, and a display at the Cedar Rapids Library, "As Long as the City Stands."
For updates regarding the progress of the new center and other informaton, visit their website.
Other Museums and Galleries:
- CSPS Hall/Legion Arts
- Granger House
- African American Museum
- CR Museum of Art
- Grant Wood Studio
- National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
- Black Earth Gallery
- History Center
- Artisan's Sanctuary
- Campbell Steele