Governor Herring Presentation 

Tuesday, March 7th - Franklin Library - Presentation by Victoria Herring

The public is invited to a Des Moines Historical Society lecture by Victoria Herring at 6:30 p.m. March 7 at the Franklin Library, 5000 Franklin Avenue. It will focus on Clyde L. Herring, the founder of Herring Motor Co., who manufactured Ford Model T cars in Des Moines. In 1908 Herring entered the automobile business in Atlantic, Iowa. As a result of his earlier acquaintance with Henry Ford, Herring received a free car and the right to own the Ford dealerships for all of Iowa in 1910. As president of the Herring Motor Company, and later the Herring-Wissler Company in Council Bluffs and Des Moines, he became wealthy. In 1915 his dealership sold and delivered more automobiles than any other automobile agency in the United States. He was a friend and confidant of Henry Ford as well as an Iowa governor (1933 to 1937) and a U.S. senator.

More info-

Clyde LaVerne Herring, a Senator from Iowa; born in Jackson, Jackson County, Mich., May 3, 1879; attended the public schools; moved to Detroit, Mich., in 1897; served as a private in Company D, Third Michigan Regiment, in the Spanish-American War; moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., and engaged in ranching 1902-1906; moved to Massena, Iowa, and engaged in agricultural pursuits 1906-1908; entered the automobile business in Atlantic, Iowa, 1908-1910; moved to Des Moines, Iowa, in 1910 and continued in the automobile business; during the First World War served with the Iowa National Guard on the Mexican border; unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Iowa in 1920; unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1922; member of the Democratic National Committee of Iowa 1924-1928; Governor of Iowa 1933-1937; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate for the term beginning January 3, 1937, but did not qualify until the expiration of his term as Governor, and served from January 15, 1937, to January 3, 1943; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1942; senior assistant administrator in the Office of Price Administration 1943; resumed the automobile business in Des Moines, Iowa; died in Washington, D.C., September 15, 1945; interment in Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa.

History of Iowa Capitol Building

Saturday February 25th, 10:00 am –

State of Iowa Capitol Building (Enter at the south door and someone will direct you).  Joan Arndt, who fascinated us with interesting facts and tour last year, will give us more history about the Capitol,… that sometimes we take for granted.  MEMBERS ONLY EVENT​​​​​

Did you know that we have one of the recognized most beautiful Capitol Buildings in the Unitesd States? It is also the only one with five domes. How did it come to be, and of all places, how was the location chosen? Come and hear one of the state capitol historians, Joan Arndt, share entertaining stories of the early beginnings of probably the most imposing structures in our fair city. (Enter under the south steps of the Capitol and security will direct you.) This is a Members Only event. You may join on-line at our web site, or join at the door.

Come learn about us and how you can get involved with the DMHS 

Saturday, February 11, 11-1PM

1701 Pennsylvania Ave, Des Moines, Iowa 50313

Come see a cool old house, have some goodies and learn more about The Des Moines Historical Society. Learn about how you can get involved with our fun active group. We have 12 plus events during the year and would love some help in many different areas - from like minded people .... please RSVP


History of Younkers: More Than a Store - February 22nd, 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Presented by the Central Public Library 1000 Grand Avenue.  
For many Iowans, a trip to Younkers was more than just a wonderful shopping experience, it was an event. With tea rooms, fashion shows, and theater nights, Younkers became a destination. Vicki Ingham, author of Younkers: The Friendly Store, will share how the business became an Iowa institution. Join us for a fascinating presentation and refreshments.


Annual Meeting at the famous West End Architectural Salvage & Coffee Shop! 

 January 28th 11am to 1pm at 22 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50309

 About: West End has everything from furniture to stained glass to doors to tin panels. These one-of-a-kind items are organized by category throughout the four floors of the West End building. This makes it possible for you to find what you want in a minimal amount of time.

About the show:  West End Salvage follows Don Short and his crack team of pickers, carpenters and designers as they find and create amazing one-of-a-kind pieces out of salvaged treasures. Whether they're prying unusual details off the sides of old buildings or competing with quirky Midwest pickers for the ultimate find, they take their haul back to Don's 50,000-square-foot warehouse in downtown Des Moines to spin gold out of straw. In the end, whether it's a lamp made from a bakery whisk or a bench fashioned from a pig trough, these items will ultimately become the centerpieces of stunning room makeovers for customers in the know.

Below are links to see more awesome projects from West End! 


Tour of the Des Moines Playhouse

Monday, January 9th, 7:00 pm –

Des Moines Community Playhouse, 831 42nd Street (just North of I-235 on 42nd).  Tour of the Playhouse and history given by John Viars, Executive Director of the Playhouse.  MEMBERS ONLY EVENT


​History of Highland Park

Wednesday, December 14th, 6:00 pm –

North Side D.M. Public Library, 3516 Fifth Avenue (on the south side of Euclid Avenue).  Lisa Elm will present the history of Highland Park.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Saturday March 19th at 1:00pm Whittier Elementary School - East 14th and Washington - The Des Moines Historical Society is offering a Members Only Tour. You may join on our website or at the door.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own a school? Whittier School building is up for sale. Come and tour the old former school building. We will receive a personal tour provided by the current owner. Check out the architecture of the time and the beautiful use of wood throughout.


Iowa Architectural Foundation 2016 Lectures​
Thursday, April 28th– 6:30 PM – DES MOINES ART CENTER

Join IAF at the Des Moines Art Center for the unique opportunity to see the works of three renowned, 20th century architects at one location.  The Talk & Tour is sponsored in partnership with the Art Center and museum docents will host a tour of the building and discuss the history and design of the works of Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei and Richard Meier.  The tour begins in the Art Center lobby, 4700 Grand Avenue.  Parking is available on the east and west sides of the facility.



​Give Local Des Moines is a big, bold opportunity to help change our community. We will bring together local nonprofits and hundreds (if not thousands) of donors from every neighborhood in our community together for the largest crowdfunding day to celebrate the local organizations doing the critical work of keeping our communities vital and strong. 

What is it? Give Local Des Moines is a part of the largest giving day in history. On May 3, 2016, we are joining more than 100 communities across the country to raise millions of dollars for our individual communities. 

We’re partnering with The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, area nonprofits, businesses and community members to raise funding for the organizations that work tirelessly and selflessly in our community to address local needs.


Saturday, May 14th,2016 at 10AM

St. John's Lutheran Church built in 1935. 6th & Watson Power, Jr. Way. Come hear about the 150-year history of the church.

St. John's Lutheran Church in DM is celebrating 150 years since it began just after the end of the Civil War. The first church edifice was built in 1869 and the second building was used from 1892 to 1935 when it was razed and a new building was constructed on the same site. Some very well known pastors and congregants have served at SJLC of DM. Come to see historical photos and learn the stories of this prominent church on the downtown skyline. 
Please join us as Deb and Jim Blume tell us about the people, the dates and the events that have played an important role in helping St. John’s arrive at this distinguished anniversary. 
Park in the north lot or on the street & enter the SW (accessible) door. There are elevators available. This event is open to everyone.

Come for the tour and stay for our Quarterly meeting immediately after the tour. 


Members Only - Rees Gabriel House 1701 Pennsylvania - Saturday May 21 at 10:00 am

​This beautiful house was built in 1896 in the Queen Anne style. It has four rooms plus the kitchen on the first floor. The second floor has a center hall and five bedrooms. The attic space with vaulted ceiling is one large room.

All original woodwork, transom windows, stained glass windows, carved staircase, wrap around porch, fireplace, turret, and many ornate porches. The flooring is oak and walls have been plastered. It is mostly restored both inside and out.

The house is known as the Rees Gabriel Mansion - this home was built by Rees Gabriel - whose remaining daughter lived in the home up until 1982. He owned 37 lumberyards around the state and spared no expense or design in building this stately old home. This house is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Members Only, House and Garden Tour - 1429 9th Home - Sunday, May 29th at 1:30 pm.

Built in 1896 by John A. Lawless, an Irish immigrant who came to Iowa via New York with his wife Mary and their two daughters. This Victorian home is in Historic River Bend.

The house has been on a long journey in restoring it to its original grandeur. The woodwork is original with the only painted trim in the kitchen. It has over 3, 900 sq. ft. The main level entry has a fireplace and view to 2nd story with stain glass windows.

Hardwood floors flow through the office area, front parlor, living room with a second fireplace, and a huge dining room. Four bedrooms are featured on the second floor. The third floor is finished. This house is on the National Register of Historical Places.

This special tour was scheduled to see the additional garden in bloom


Saturday, July 9th  from 9:30-10:30 Iowa Capital Tourexclusively for Des Moines Historical Society (Dues Paying Members Only & Please RSVP to dmhsrsvp@mail.com)


Monday, July 11th @ 9:00am - Des Moines Street Car Friends (Breakfest Program @ the Machine Shed)
The Machine Shed - 11151 Hickman Road, Urbandale
Topic- Douglas Trolley Line


Saturday, July 16 @ 1:00pm - Tour of the Chamberland Mansion(Public Welcome)

3520 Grand Ave on Wesley Acres Campus
Des Moines Historical Society quarterly meeting will start immediately after the tour at 2:00pm. 


Saturday, July 16 @ 2:00 pm, DES MOINES HISTORY PRESENTATION -  North Side Library - From its early start as a fort at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon River, to its early days as a coal mining town, Des Moines has a captivating history.



August 25th, Thursday at 7pm - Plymouth Place 4111 Ingersoll Ave   (Members Only)

You have seen those signs around town, the ones with a Dragoon on it.  Those marked with Dragoon Trail or Alternate Dragoon Trail.  Have you ever wondered what a Dragoon is? Have you wondered what was the Dragoon Trail and questioned its significance? Thursday, August 25th, at 7:00 pm in the great room at Plymouth Place, Mike Vogt of the Gold Star museum will do a presentation on the history of the Dragoons and the Dragoon Trail and the Des Moines connection. This informational meeting is open to the general public. The address is 4111 Ingersoll Avenue in Des Moines.

We hope you will be able to attend this informational meeting.
Des Moines Concours d' Elegance 

September 10-11th, downtown at Pappajohn Park

​The Des Moines Concours d’Elegance™ is a premier automotive exhibition held at the internationally recognized John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park Sunday, September 11, 2016 in downtown Des Moines. The Concours will present an invitation-only exhibition of more than 100 vintage and classic motor vehicles, selected to celebrate the fine art, design evolution and amazing innovations of motor vehicles through the years, as well as the talented designers and engineers who created them. 


History of Norman Vorse - Des Moines Architect

September 25th, Sunday at 1pm - 420 51st Street (Members Only)

A very special South of Grand MEMBERS ONLY TOUR will be held at 1:00 p.m., Sunday September 25 at 420 51st Steet in Des Moines.  Maria Parrelli will offer a presentation on the architectural style of this south of Grand home designed by Norman Vorse. Built in 1924 Norman Vorse was very active in residential and commercial projects and added an artistic flare and many unique features to his designs. Norman Vorse also designed the Hoyt Sherman Auditorium and many of the old theaters around Des Moines.  There is a surprise feature added to the home for those who make it all the way to the attic on this tour. See our website for a list of a few of the properties that Norman Vorse designed. This is a members only tour. Not a Member?  You may join on-line at our website (www.DesMoinesHistoricalSociety.org) or you can join at the door.

If you are planning on attending, or are interested in coming but need to check your schedule, we have a request.  So that we may better know the amount of people attending this tour, please go to our Facebook Page.  There you will find this event listed.  Let us know your intension.  Although it is not a R.S.V.P. event, it will help us better accommodate those who plan to attend.  THANK YOU!

Waveland Golf Course History

October 8th, 10am presentation - 4908 University Ave

                      11am Quarterly Meeting

Learn about the history of the Waveland Golf Course from Steve Nelson-Vaux, volunteer historian with the Parks and Recreation Board.  Earl Short, Des Moines streetcar historian, will tell us about the bus turn around adjacent to the Golf Course.
The History of Kurtz Hardware Company - Nov. 5th from 1-2 pm at Iowa Genealogical Society - 628 E. Grand - 

​​The Des Moines Historical Society is hosting a presentation on the history of the Kurtz Hardware Company. We will be in the Meeting Room at the Iowa Genealogical Society. The President of the company, Bob Kurtz, will offer a history of the family and the business. This is a members only event. You may join on-line beforehand or at the door the day of the event.


History of Highland Park ​ - Wednesday, December 14th, 6:00 pm 
North Side D.M. Public Library, 3516 Fifth Avenue (on the south side of Euclid Avenue).  Lisa Elm will present the history of Highland Park.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

    Past Events

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