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An Uncommon Celebration

This project was, without question, a defining moment for Brucemore.
Jim Kern
Executive Director, Brucemore


The Brucemore estate—a National Trust Historic Site in the Midwest—serves as a monument to the past. But it was, first and foremost, a home. Twenty-five years after the site was bequeathed to the city, its board asked North Forty to help create an event that would celebrate Brucemore not only as a historical gem, but as a place the community could call their own.

Creating an anniversary event for a place where three pet lions once roamed the 26-acre grounds calls for much more than a typical, ho-hum, pat-yourself-on-the-back affair. We wanted to bring the mansion’s fascinating legacy to life in a completely unexpected way.


Brucemore's trustees wanted to reveal the manor for what it really is—a beautiful and accessible place to be enjoyed by all. The Uncommon Kings  project showcased the true spirit of the mansion through an original music CD, a coffee-table book and a live event.

Collectively, the pieces explored the century-old estate in an entirely new way, highlighting Brucemore’s remarkable past while revitalizing its image for the future.

Many patrons believed the name Uncommon Kings  was a nod to the lion in Brucemore's logo, or perhaps hinted at the slightly eccentric lifestyle of its wealthy residents. The theme was actually developed after our extensive tour of the grounds revealed a touching tribute to beloved family pets—all named King.

Making the brand sing

Music is the language of the soul. It's also a powerful—and often overlooked—marketing instrument. By telling the story of Brucemore's past through song, we brought its families to life, capturing the heart of the site in a way that speaks to an audience on the deepest level.

Letters and correspondences of the families who lived at Brucemore served as lyrical inspiration as we were writing and recording the full-length studio album.

Revealing the hidden gems

Viewed from the vantage of six professional and amateur photographers, the coffee table book showcases the intricate and often-unseen details that form the essence of Brucemore's character.


The Uncommon Kings  finale was a three-night outdoor event hosted on Brucemore's front lawn, complete with technical effects and live performances of the project's original music.

Brucemore's 25th anniversary celebration was an immersive, award-winning experience that helped inspire other historical sites to raise the bar when it comes to truly reaching the community. It also redefined how the organization sees its own role for the next 25 years. According to Brucemore's executive director Jim Kern, "Unequivocally, with this project, we started rethinking what education and learning mean for this historical site."

North Forty's own Director of Creative Experience, Gerard Estella, rocked the house at the Uncommon Kings  live performance.

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