The pandemic that shut so many public doorways to guests opened a window of alternative for Iowa PBS movie crews to step inside a few of Cedar Rapids’ historic websites.

They nonetheless had to take private security precautions, however in the tip, are prepared to take viewers by way of “Historic Buildings of Iowa: Cedar Rapids.”

The hourlong documentary, shot largely in July, will premiere at 6:30 p.m. March 2 on-air and on-line for prime viewing through the Iowa PBS Pageant fundraiser. On-line watchers that evening can chat with one another dwell and ask questions of in-studio company.

This system could have subsequent airings on Iowa PBS .1 and Iowa PBS WORLD .3, and for a restricted time, will likely be free on demand on, and the PBS Video App.

Among the many showcased websites are the Paramount Theatre, Veterans Memorial Constructing, Cedar Rapids Museum of Artwork and its Grant Wooden Studio, Brucemore mansion, the Nationwide Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, and the Louis Sullivan financial institution, most just lately dwelling to Popoli Restaurant, which closed Dec. 20.

With the airing of the Cedar Rapids episode, “Historic Buildings of Iowa” will be deemed a series, since that is simply the second installment mining the state’s wealthy structural historical past. The primary particular centered on Des Moines, and debuted final March through the 2020 Pageant fundraiser.

The cameras will subsequent deal with Iowa Metropolis, which can air both later this 12 months or in 2020, stated Andrew Batt, senior producer and director at Iowa PBS, headquartered in Johnston, close to Des Moines.


“It was an idea that we labored on in a collaboration with Iowa PBS and our basis, to discover among the buildings that also stay in our state which have wealthy tales,” Batt stated. “We centered this across the idea that these are experiences in Iowa.”

As well as, PBS deliberate to supply bus journeys for its members to the varied websites, however the pandemic paused that concept for now.

Batt and different PBS producers knew the primary episode wouldn’t be the final.

He stated they acknowledged “there are some nice alternatives in a few of these different cities in Iowa to function, and it’s a mixture of what these buildings are at present and their tales, as a result of the tales are what may be very fascinating.”

Cedar Rapids View

Iowa’s second largest metropolis was the logical cease for the second episode, he famous.

“It has historical past,” he stated. “Iowa PBS is a statewide community, so we cowl tales throughout the state. And any time we’ve ever been in Cedar Rapids, whether or not or not it’s to produce the state volleyball championships or do tales or different applications like ‘Iowa Open air,’ I all the time got here throughout buildings, constructions and tales from Cedar Rapids that had been fascinating. Once we determined to look into the potential for picturing them in a bigger documentary, it was fairly straightforward, to be trustworthy.

“Listed below are some unbelievable tales. Cedar Rapids buildings just like the Brucemore mansion; the Cedar Rapids Museum of Artwork, together with its Grant Wooden Studio. The Veterans Memorial Constructing, which anybody sees driving proper by way of Cedar Rapids on the interstate, however we don’t know the story of what that golden flame is or why that metropolis corridor was put there in the center of the river. The Paramount Theatre and the Czech Museum — constructions which have both heritage and historical past or magnificence and had been ravaged by floodwaters.

“All of those tales inform a narrative about Iowa that’s greater — inform a narrative about Cedar Rapids and that group — they usually’re nonetheless standing. They’re nonetheless issues you may see at present and in our digitalized expertise.”

He and his colleagues visited among the websites in December 2019, so viewers will see Brucemore adorned for Christmas. And since many of the footage was shot over just a few days this previous July, they’ll additionally see Brucemore’s property because it seemed earlier than the Aug. 10 derecho perpetually altered the panorama.

“I do know the timber don’t look the identical as they did once we filmed in July,” Batt stated. “So we captured what turned out to be a bit little bit of a time capsule earlier than the storm went by way of.”


The entire website administrators and employees with whom they spoke had been keen to welcome the manufacturing crews inside, and every phase options feedback from the director or an skilled on the constructing’s again story.


“We spent in depth time filming,” Batt stated, “and we had to do our filming through the pandemic safely in Cedar Rapids the place we despatched our groups in.

“One benefit of many of those constructions is, due to the pandemic, you didn’t have quite a lot of tour teams — or any tour teams in many instances — coming by way of these constructions. So we labored with lots of them to get in and to movie safely for our crew.”

Whereas it might have been good to movie some folks milling about, the largely empty rooms is “what 2020 gave us this previous 12 months — a minimum of throughout a part of the filming course of,” he stated, “and it allowed us to actually showcase these buildings. Numerous them stand very well on their very own, even with no large occasion in place.”

Drone expertise additionally allowed them to present the chook’s-eye views folks simply can’t get from the bottom. “That actually showcases quite a lot of that magnificence,” stated Batt, who in addition to serving as govt producer, additionally was one of many drone operators.

A Johnston resident, he has been with Iowa PBS for 17 years, and wore a number of different hats throughout manufacturing final 12 months in Cedar Rapids and the postproduction work this winter again dwelling.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck method,” he stated. He helped coordinate the challenge; helped edit the options, together with different producers, editors and videographers; and “did a bit little bit of all of it,” from writing and enhancing to taking pictures and flying a drone.


As with all of his initiatives, he walks away studying one thing new.

“On this job, you might have to relearned the lesson that there are such a lot of tales to inform and there’s a lot you don’t know in regards to the again story, even in this case, of buildings in Iowa’s second-largest metropolis. You possibly can go and do tales in any city in Iowa for years, however notice that there are extra tales to be instructed and there’s one thing to all the time study. That’s mirrored in the producer, and it’s mirrored in what our viewers will uncover, too.”

Creating and airing the Cedar Rapids phase through the pandemic additionally permits viewers a glimpse exterior their properties whereas safely staying inside their properties — in addition to piquing their curiosity in potential websites to see.


“It’s a celebration of Iowa and the tales and the locations, and it’s an awesome match for a time interval which quite a lot of Iowans would really like to get out and discover their very own group or discover their very own state,” Batt stated.

“You concentrate on your trip, and lots of people need to get out of the state and go journey elsewhere. There’s so many locations inside the state, and so many Iowans are restricted in exploring their very own backyards.

“This type of program is sweet anyway, any time I get to share a narrative about Iowa. However one factor we discovered in this ‘Historic Buildings of Iowa’ series is that individuals could know what these names of the buildings are. They might even know the place they’re positioned they usually could have lived in that city their complete lives, however have they ever gone in and toured it? Do they know the again story?

“So if that’s the case inside a metropolis like Cedar Rapids, that they might not have been to all these locations in the story, it definifetly is a narrative to share throughout our total state,” he stated.

“And all of those hint again to the historical past of Iowa. It’s a Cedar Rapids story, however they’re all Iowa tales.”

• What: Iowa PBS presents: “Historic Buildings of Iowa: Cedar Rapids”

• Premiere: Hourlong documentary, 6:30 p.m. March 2, on-air and on-line at as a part of Pageant 2021

• Different airings: 1:30 p.m. March 7 and a pair of:30 p.m. March 13 at on Iowa PBS .1; 8:30 p.m. March 13 at on Iowa PBS WORLD .3

• On-line options: March 2 Fb premiere audiences can chat with one another dwell and ask questions of in-studio company; following the premiere, this system will likely be accessible free on demand for a restricted time on, and the PBS Video App


• Iowa PBS Pageant 2021: Annual pledge drive at present and Sunday (2/20-21) and Feb. 27 to March 14; particulars at

Feedback: (319) 368-8508;

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