An iconic symbol located in the heart of the city, the Veterans Memorial Building is home to the Veterans Memorial Commission, several veterans groups and multiple exhibits. FREE and open to the public, visitors can stop in to learn about the role veterans have played in shaping our community while touring several gallery spaces. The building is also a gathering space for celebrating a family milestone, raising awareness for a cause, or to simply listen to some tunes!
Opened in 1927, the Veterans Memorial Building serves as a true memorial to our veterans. On the National Register of Historic Places, the building hosts several memorials including the Eternal Flame which was placed atop the building in the year 2000. Under the ﬂame, are original architectural structures: a Cenotaph (borrowing its look from the Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) which evokes the spirit and appearance of the war memorial in Whitehall, London, an observation deck and the coliseum — where famed performers like Metallica, LeAnn Rimes, Fats Domino and Johnny Cash once rocked the stage. There are three museum displays to tour, each containing a variety of artifacts and memorabilia donated to the Veterans Memorial Commission, including the Horsky collection of model airplanes.
Famed artist and World War I veteran, Grant Wood, left his mark on the Veterans Memorial Building. The stained-glass window that graces the main lobby is Wood’s largest work standing 24-feet tall by 20-feet wide. The Memorial Window portrays a central female ﬁgure representing the Republic — symbolically holding a palm branch of peace and a laurel wreath of victory — along with six stoic soldiers at the base. Wood designed the window before the creation of American Gothic which catapulted him to national fame. Standing at The Window was drawn up (in full-scale sketches) by Wood — who traveled to Munich, Germany where he got hands-on experience painting the stained glass. It holds much symbolism and detail and must simply be viewed in person to be truly appreciated. Don’t miss Angles on the Window gallery talks April through October to learn about the intricate details of the masterpiece.
During many evenings and weekends, Veterans Memorial Building comes alive as a popular rental venue. There are several spaces — from an intimate ballroom overlooking the river, to the industrial-feel armory in the basement, and the spacious and glamorous coliseum — available for hosting community and private events throughout the year. Beyond renting the building, there are plenty of reasons to stop in for a visit. Take a twilight yoga class. Meet a political candidate or two passing through town on the campaign trail. Or dance the night away at a wedding or local fundraiser. For nine decades, Veterans Memorial Building has been and continues to be a place for making memories.
(Photo above is republished with permission. Copyright 2019 THE GAZETTE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Veterans Memorial Building
50 2nd Ave Bridge, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401