Tour where the most famous American painting was created

What is America’s most famous painting? Most folks would answer “America Gothic” or they would at least say something about an old guy standing in front of a house with his pitchfork….. and they would be correct, considering it is certainly the most copied and parodied.

Did you know that Grant Wood’s masterpiece was created in his apartment/studio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa? The space is open to visitors each weekend from spring to fall AND IT’S FREE!!!


Address: 810 2nd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403 Exact Google map location

In 1923, the Turner family purchased the Douglas Mansion. They hired a local artist name Grant Wood to help them with the design.

In exchange for his work, Grant Wood was offered the living space above the carriage house. He referred to the location as 5 Turner Alley and lived here from 1924 to 1935. The gray steps in the back are the entrance up to the space where Grant Wood lived and worked on what became many of his masterpieces.
The tour starts in the lower level with a short film about the history of the facility as well as Grant Wood. This is the lower level of the carriage house. For many years, it was home the horses used for the funeral home and the loft above was for hay. When they converted from horses to hearses, they no longer needed the space above and it was given to Grant Wood, rent free.
The lower level also contains a small gift shop area and some small exhibits with timelines for both Grant Wood and the facility.
Get your photo taken with Grant Wood and his classic bib overalls.

As you walk up the steps to the second floor studio, the first thing you’ll notice is design of door. It’s fashioned out of a coffin lid, which is pretty funny considering this was a funeral home. The glass section contained a pinwheel that allowed Grant to identify if was out of town, having a party, or taking a bath. This is a replica of the door, as the original door is on exhibit at the Cedar Rapids Art Musuem, which houses the world’s largest collection of Grant Wood works.

The studio is barely 1,000 sq feet and contained only one bedroom (usually taken by his mother) along with a small kitchen, small bathroom, and then one large living space (in the photo above) that was used as his bedroom, art studio, and living room.

This nook served as Grant Wood’s dining room.

The kitchen was extremely narrow and the area to the back right in the photo was referred to as the “hot dog stand” which had an open space leading towards the dining room nook.

Where the bathtub is now used to be the hayloft shute, where they dropped hay down below for the horses. Grant Wood added a sunken bathtub into this space.

This is the space where Grant Wood created America’s most famous painting, “American Gothic”.

I was surprised to learn that his studio/living space was still being rented out as an apartment up till about the year 2000.

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