About Terramuse

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The retreat center


Terramuse 501(c)(3) non-profit. 

The facility is a combination of an educational center, a retreat away from the noise and tensions of the city, and a place of ecological experimentation and appreciation. It is the only non-religiously affiliated residential facility in the region. Being a neutral setting with a multi-purpose space, Terramuse is easily adapted to a variety of uses and organizations. The 47 acres are situated around peaceful farms, well away from town light and noise pollution. Terramuse looks to being a leading provider of life changing programming in the upper midwest region.

Terramuse 18

The idea of a residential retreat center arose in the mind of our founder, David O’Donaghue, through his 19 years of designing adult educational experiences in the mountains of North Carolina, Baltimore and New Orleans. David set up learning programs in urban areas which lent themselves more to weekly classes of a nonresidential nature.        

Coming home to Iowa, David saw the potential for building a space to host groups who would be interested in intensive condensed learning over weekends and day use. The design of Terramuse includes the preparation of meals and the hospitality of Japanese style bedrooms, with sauna and lovely grounds to wander at ease.

Meet the Team


David O’Donaghue, Psy.D.

Founder and Exectutive Director

David is a retired psychologist who designed and ran community adult education programs for the past 19 years in the mountains of North Carolina, the inner city of Baltimore and New Orleans.  He was born in Cedar Rapids and is very happy being back in Iowa.

He has always had a vision of a rural retreat style of learning and reflection with concentrated time for the process. He has enjoyed helping design Terramuse, as he is a bit of a wanna-be architect himself. He will be teaching at Terramuse from time to time.

ralph portrait


Follower of Smells and Finder of Mud

Ralph is an energetic and affectionate pup who loves spending time roaming the beautiful 47 acre countryside.

Ralph has lived with David since 2017 and was a local rescue.  Ralph has been exploring Terramuse since it was bare Iowa prairie, and was present at all phases of construction.  He is a steadfast presence that welcomes all he meets.

Ralph lives in Mount Vernon, but may occasionally visit Terramuse if David is out and about.