A major philanthropic organization in Cedar Rapids will soon occupy a historic downtown building. The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation has purchased the more than 100-year-old Torch Press Building for its new headquarters.

During the early 1900s, the Torch Press Bookshop was the biggest and most patronized bookshop west of the Mississippi River. 

“We’re really thrilled at the idea that the Community Foundation could be playing a positive role in the rebuilding of Cedar Rapids,” said Dan Baldwin, president and CEO of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. “It just feels like we’re participating in the rejuvenation of our community and that was very important to us.”

The four-story Torch Press Building was flooded last year but the Foundation’s current location was also flooded and will be torn down. The organization gives out millions of dollars to non-profits each year. Baldwin said one notable grant went to a program called Block by Block.

“This was to go straight into flood impacted neighborhoods and work, literally, block by block to rebuild and get families back into homes and make neighborhoods look whole again,” Baldwin said.

The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, which was founded in 1949, is scheduled to open its new office in the Torch Press Building in the summer of 2010. Baldwin says the foundation financed the building purchase from operating cash reserves.