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Rensselaar Russell House


520 West Third Street

Rensselaer Russell came to Waterloo from New York in 1857 at the age of 19. He had been in the dry goods business before heading west, but in Iowa he prospered in banking and real estate.

Russell purchased the block bounded by West Third, West Second, South, and Washington in 1857. Here in 1865, he built this house, which is now maintained as a museum of the period. Along with the Barnum-Bryant-Dempster House, built in Cedar Falls in 1862, the Rensselaar Russell House vividly represents the Italianate style of architecture that flourished in the United States during the mid-19th century.

Russell was first associated with Martin Moore for two years in banking and land. In 1860 he took over the banking business of Hosford and Miller, which had been in Waterloo since 1854. Russell's was one of five banks in the town at that time.

Russell operated a wholesale grocery business in Waterloo until 1886. He was also responsible for erecting several large buildings along Commercial Street. The largest of these was the Paul Davis Dry Goods Store, destroyed by fire in 1914.

Descendants of Mr. Russell lived in the home well into the 20th Century, including his daughter Lillian Russell Lampson. It presently serves as a museum for the Grout complex.

The Rensselaer Russell House Museum

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Last updated Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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