We all know the picture.  It’s called “American Gothic.”  Painted by Grant Wood, famed Iowa artist.

But did you know that he created the iconic artwork in a funeral home?

The Turner Mortuary bought the Douglas mansion in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and opened in 1924.  The owner, David Turner, was a friend and patron of the artist.  He immediately made the hayloft in the carraige house available to Wood rent-free.  In exchange, the artist helped redecorate the home and renovate it to accommodate funeral services.

Wood converted the loft into a studio and living space.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The artist lived and worked in the space for 10 years, until he moved to Iowa City in 1934.  He painted “American Gothic” in the space in 1930.

Turner, the funeral director, would remain the artist’s friend and patron for life.  When Wood died of liver cancer in February 1942, the Turner Mortuary handled his services.

Added the to the National Register in 1984, the space was donated to the museum by the current owners (Cedar Memorial Funeral Homes) in 2002.  Today, the studio is operated as a gallery by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.