Welcome to Des Moines, Iowa, where history comes alive through its charming historic neighborhoods. These neighborhoods offer a glimpse into the past while maintaining their relevance in the present. Join us on a journey through Des Moines’ historic districts as we look at the stories behind their brick-paved streets, graceful Victorian homes, and vibrant community spirit.
Our first stop takes us to Sherman Hill, a neighborhood with elegance and historical significance. As one of Des Moines’ oldest districts, Sherman Hill is renowned for its well-preserved Victorian-era homes.
The area’s architectural treasures showcase a range of styles, from Italianate and Queen Anne to Second Empire and Gothic Revival. Wander along the picturesque streets, lined with tree-shaded sidewalks and blooming gardens, and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a bygone era. Hoyt Sherman Place is a performing arts venue that adds a touch of grandeur to the neighborhood.
Moving eastward, we arrive at the eclectic East Village. Once a bustling warehouse district, this neighborhood has experienced a remarkable revitalization while preserving its historic charm.
The streets of East Village are adorned with beautifully restored buildings, now housing many independent boutiques, art galleries, trendy restaurants, and coffee shops. Don’t miss the State Capitol Complex, a monumental architectural gem that stands as a symbol of Iowa’s government and history.
The East Village effortlessly blends the city’s past with its present, creating a dynamic and engaging atmosphere for residents and visitors alike.
Continuing our journey, we go to Beaverdale, a beloved neighborhood known for its strong sense of community and distinct architectural character. Founded in the early 1900s, Beaverdale showcases a charming collection of brick homes, many displaying Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival styles.
The neighborhood’s unique character is best experienced during the annual Beaverdale Fall Festival, where neighbors celebrate local traditions and showcase their pride in their community. Explore Beaver Avenue, the main thoroughfare dotted with locally-owned shops, cafes, and restaurants that make Beaverdale a cherished part of Des Moines’ history.
Heading west, we arrive at the Drake Neighborhood, an area closely intertwined with Drake University. This vibrant neighborhood boasts diverse architectural styles, reflecting the university’s influence and the area’s historical significance.
You will encounter a blend of historic homes, fraternity and sorority houses, and the iconic Drake Stadium. The Drake Neighborhood embodies the spirit of education, community, and history, fostering an environment that seamlessly merges academia with residential charm.
South of Grand
Our final destination is South of Grand, an upscale neighborhood showcasing Des Moines’ architectural diversity and opulence. Majestic mansions grace the streets of this affluent district. The Salisbury House, an enchanting English manor, is a prominent cultural landmark featuring an extensive art collection and exquisite gardens.
As you wander through the leafy avenues, you’ll encounter stunning examples of Prairie School designs, elegant Georgian Revival homes, and other architectural gems that vividly depict Des Moines’ affluent past.
South of Grand invites visitors to experience the grandness and beauty that once defined the city’s elite. Immerse yourself in the area’s artistic spirit by visiting the Des Moines Art Center, where contemporary works by renowned artists can be found.
Des Moines’ historic neighborhoods speak to the city’s enduring legacy, preserving its architectural heritage and community spirit. From the Victorian homes of Sherman Hill to the vibrant mix of history and revitalization in the East Village, each neighborhood tells a different story of the people and events that shaped Des Moines into the city it is today.
Whether it’s Beaverdale’s warm community atmosphere, the Drake Neighborhood’s academic charm, or the South of Grand’s opulent grandeur, these districts provide a captivating journey through time and culture.
Put the family in the car and take a driving tour of Des Moines fantastic neighborhoods. Heidi Mannetter says that some of her favorite places to visit are, Snookies Malt Shop in Beaverdale and Scenic Route Bakery where you can grab a cup of coffee and some pastries in the East Village. Then off to see a show at the historic Hoyt Sherman Place.