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One of the Most Endangered Historical Buildings in DSM USA Is Being Saved

One of the Most Endangered Historical Buildings in DSM USA Is Being Saved

December 1, 2017

Built in 1909 by F.M. Hubbell, the East Des Moines Union Depot serviced passengers traveling from the east side of the Des Moines River. The depot, located in an area south of the Historic East Village called the Market District, was converted to a storage facility in the 1920s and up until recently was considered one of the most endangered buildings in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Redevelopment & Development in Downtown DSM

Meanwhile, the Historic East Village and Market District neighborhoods are in the midst of a major redevelopment. Around every corner a new hotel, apartment building or store is opening its doors. As both of these neighborhoods undergo revitalization and become popular destinations for residents and visitors, developers are quickly buying up land for additional apartment buildings, office spaces and retail stores. In order to save the depot from being torn down to make way for new construction, those of us at the Des Moines Heritage Trust (DMHT) decided to purchase the historic train depot and restore it to its original beauty.

We know the depot to be a historical gem and it is only one of a few Flemish Renaissance-style depots still standing in the Unites States. Because of this, the architecture of the building will be preserved and transformed into a space where Des Moines history can be preserved and showcased. The depot will be known as the Des Moines Heritage Center and will house a museum as well as create a home for local heritage organizations like the Des Moines Historical Society and the Des Moines Rehabbers Club.

A Vision of Interactivity

Our vision for how we will build the museum is to work with each of the heritage organizations to determine what types of artifacts are available, and then how we can incorporate technology so that interactivity is encouraged between the museum space and each visitor and more information is shared. Because the building is relatively small, incorporating technology will allow us to provide a better experience for visitors. Some examples of the types of technology we are hoping to incorporate includes short film documentaries, digitalized photographs, databases accessed through viewing portals and audio components.

A Future Event Center 

In addition to the museum, an event center will be built beside the current depot building, and will offer a space full of culture and character for the community to gather. The space will be available to rent for weddings, company retreats and corporate meetings. The venue will also be open to historical organizations to provide educational and cultural programming. Our main goal is to empower these groups and create a local home for heritage.

The construction and renovation phases of the depot building and event center will begin in June of 2018. The process will take approximately 10-12 months, with expected completion and availability for events in summer 2019. BNIM architects are currently working on the design for both the historic renovation of the depot and the details of the event center. 

All of us at the Des Moines Heritage Trust are very excited about this project. We are proud to revive this historical landmark in Downtown DSM and bring additional revenue to the thriving East Village and Market District area.

We welcome community members to learn more about the Des Moines Heritage Trust and the Depot Project on our website or by liking us on Facebook.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a big city. To learn more, click here.