Rensselaer and Caroline Russell built the house in 1861 for $5,878.83. As the Grout Museum District's largest artifact, it has been restored to the 1890s — the period when electricity was added to the home.
Waterloo, Iowa, was originally known as Prairie Rapids Crossing. The town was established, according to the original researcher as reported by staff of the Grout Museum in Waterloo, near two Meskwaki American tribal seasonal camps alongside the Cedar River. It was first settled in 1845 when George and Mary Melrose Hanna and their children arrived on the east bank of the Red Cedar River (now just called the Cedar River).