If you've never set off to explore Des Moines’ rich history, we highly recommend spending a weekend or some vacation time doing so. While there a many historic locations to visit, we’ve put together a list of our top five sites in Des Moines.
The State Capitol Building of Iowa is known for its breathtaking historic architecture. From the intricate woodwork to the carefully painted ceilings, it will take you back to a time when craftsmanship was highly valued. The free official tour takes about an hour and will educate you not only about the building itself, but also the history of Iowa as a state. The building is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
This magnificent home was built between 1923 and 1928. It sits among nine acres that are a combination of beautifully landscaped gardens and natural, old-growth woodlands. Inside the home, you can view collections of art and antiques from the early 20th century. In the library, you'll find more than 3,000 rare books, including manuscripts from Faulkner and Hemingway. Self-guided tours are offered Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and guided tours take place Tuesday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
This neighborhood on the north side of Des Moines was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It consists of a park surrounded by a number of private residences. Most of these homes were built in the Colonial Revival style during the late 19th century, and you'll also see several carriage houses and stables that have been preserved from this time. The neighborhood is named after Curtis Bates, a lawyer who owned the tract of land in the mid-to-late 1800s.
This home and the 13-acre property it sits on were owned by James and Florence Carpenter in the early 1900s. Built in the Colonial Revival style, the house features a formal staircase made from quarter-sawn oak, along with a stunning oak fireplace. The collection of artwork inside includes more than 125 paintings and 350 etchings.
This historic building was built in 1884 and is the oldest example of Italianate architecture in Des Moines. It's currently home to the Court Avenue Restaurant & Brewing Company, but has housed an array of businesses including a hat company, a shoe maker, and a rubber manufacturer. Stop in for a bite to eat and admire the architectural beauty.
What other beautiful historical sites in the Des Moines area would you recommend visiting? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below!