An architectural overview of Cedar Rapids

Located in the southeast quadrant of Cedar Rapids, the Oak Hill neighborhood might not be the place you think of when you want to go look at historic buildings.

The neighborhood really began to grow at the end of the 19th century when workers for the T.M. Sinclair Packing Company made their homes in the area around the plant. These modest homes were nothing fancy, and that may be why many of the historic houses in the area have not been kept up. A 2006 architectural survey, however, recommended 28 properties to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

With this in mind, it's clear that Cedar Rapids is full of architectural history — you just have to open your eyes!

Granted, Cedar Rapids isn’t Paris, nor is it London. Likewise, it will probably never be named one of the “Top 10 architectural cites to visit before you die.” Nonetheless, for home hunters or lovers of old buildings, there is ample architectural history here to discover. In fact, Cedar Rapids boasts a cross section of 150 years of architectural styles and tastes.

This rich architectural heritage is due to the city's role as a major industrial center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a place where a number of people were able to accumulate wealth and build their homes accordingly. Most famous among these landmark mansions are the Brucemore Mansion and the Armstrong House.

Dominant styles

A tour of Cedar Rapids will reveal an array of styles reflecting popular tastes from past decades. Here is a list of some styles you might see:

  • Queen Anne style. Known for its dramatic turrets, sharp corners and broad porches, this is one of the most prominent styles featured in the Brucemore Mansion.  
  • The Ranch house. A symbol of the post-World War II housing boom, these are the quintessential homes of Norman Rockwell’s America.
  • American Foursquare house. One of the more enduring styles, this outwardly simple home style has gone through several revitalizations and is especially popular among those looking for an old house to fix up.
  • Prairie school of architecture. This low-lying house style emphasizes horizontal lines and has a distinctly modern look to it. The most famous in Cedar Rapids is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Douglas Grant House, and plenty of other very modern, very cool, prairie homes are out there.

Other resources:

For those who want to know more about the buildings in Cedar Rapids and its surrounding area, the Cedar Rapids History Center and National Register of Historical Places are both a great place to begin your search, helping you discover the wonderful heritage in your backyard.

If you’re considering moving into a historic house or are looking for an architecturally unique home, talk to a Coldwell Banker Hedges Realtor® today. They know the area and can help you find what you’re looking for.

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