The Paul Engle Center is located in the heart of Wellington Heights neighborhood on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids. It is historically known as the W.J. Burton House, and named after poet and Cedar Rapids native, Paul Engle.
The origination of the Paul Engle Center was a collaborative effort of three dynamic, energetic organizations: MidAmerican Housing Project (MHAP), Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association (WHNA), and Legion Arts/CSPS. In 1995 Metro Area Housing Project (MAHP) purchased the Paul Engle Center building and took on the responsibility for renovation of the center. Members of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association (notably Pat Crawford) were also actively involved in the renovation and ultimate opening of the Center. The Paul Engle Center was dedicated in 1997 when Legion Arts/CSPS joined in the efforts to get the center up and running. August 24, 2000 Paul Engle Center was granted its Certificate of Incorporation and became affiliated with the Legion Arts organization. In 2004, the Paul Engle Center for Neighborhood Arts began running independently of other organizations.
The original goal of the Paul Engle Center, was to house an artist-in-residence. In 1998, Mexican artist Isidrio Leonardo Torcuato Ortiz became the center’s first artist-in-residence and created the 4th Avenue mural depicting Engle’s Song of the Cedar. In 2010, Iowa City artist, Zech Ward was commissioned to restore the 16th St side mural depicting Paul Engle’s impact on the local and international writing and artistic community.
In 2013 the Paul Engle Center for Neighborhood Arts (PEC) Board of Directors made the decision to sell the building to Affordable Housing Network. This decision allowed the organization to expand beyond the walls of the building and fulfill our vision and mission. Because we were no longer attached to the physical center, the board decided to change our name to the Paul Engle Association for Community Arts (PEACA). The funds from the sale of the building are being used to help support local efforts to inspire artistic expression, particularly written expression, within the community.