demolition

Intended to facilitate easy movement of people from suburban homes to downtown jobs, Interstate 235 carved its way through several historic and well-established neighborhoods. This mass demolition and construction project is a scar that never healed - consuming land and dividing the city while encouraging disinvestment rather than concentrating resources. In retrospect, it would have been a much better path to invest in updated mass transit.

Below is a journal of the progression starting in 1950 through today.

Interstate 235 Path - 1950: Aerial photo of the neighborhoods through which Interstate 235 will carve a destructive path.Interstate 235 Path - 1950: Aerial photo of the neighborhoods through which Interstate 235 will carve a destructive path.

Interstate 235 Path - 1960: The Interstate 235 construction makes its way to 19th Street (now the Martin Luther King) exitInterstate 235 Path - 1960: The Interstate 235 construction makes its way to Cottage Grove exit (now the MLK exit)

Interstate 235 Path - 1970: Interstate 235 now fully divides formerly historic neighborhoodsInterstate 235 Path - 1970: Interstate 235 now fully divides formerly historic neighborhoods

Interstate 235 Path - Current Day: Interstate 235 exits have been reworked and additional pedestrian bridges attempt to connect across the divide, but the scar cannot be healedInterstate 235 Path - Current Day: Interstate 235 exits have been reworked and additional pedestrian bridges attempt to connect across the divide, but the scar cannot be healed

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I had a fantastic and far ranging conversation with a fellow design professional this afternoon, sparked by the demolition of six historic homes on 31st Street just a couple days ago. One of the things we talked about was a disconnect between preservation professionals and developers who want to work in urban neighborhoods (specifically older established neighborhoods).

Sometimes despite a general desire to "do the right thing," they end up on the wrong side of the argument. Having worked on all phases of the development process (from land assembly, planning, and zoning to design, financing, and construction), I can identify with the need to be selective about sharing information publicly until the project is ready. Most developers working in older urban areas, however, tend to take this too far - holding their cards too close to their vest will breed distrust and antipathy from concerned neighbors and organizations. It sets up a needless climate of conflict.

Here is a brief overview of how to include preservation in the development planning process: Engage, Evaluate, Execute.

Historic Preservation Planning for Developers - Engage, Evaluate, ExecuteHistoric Preservation Planning for Developers - Engage, Evaluate, Execute

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In 1950, Hud and Ellen Weeks purchased land from Hud’s parents to build a home for their growing family. An otherwise unremarkable story might have ended there but for two things: Hud was the son of Des Moines makeup magnate Carl Weeks, and the parcel they purchased was carved from the Salisbury House grounds, Hud and Ellen Weeks Home - Double Lustron KitchenHud and Ellen Weeks Home - Double Lustron Kitchennow a national landmark and museum. On this historic site, Hud and Ellen commissioned a unique modern dwelling comprised of two “Lustron” ready-to-assemble steel home kits built around a central atrium. Only about 2,000 Lustrons remain in the world today. The double Lustron home was significant architecturally due to its distinctive design and historically because of its association with an influential Des Moines family.

On a chilly February morning in 2013, Salisbury House staff arrived to find massive machines tearing into the enameled steel-cladding of Hud and Ellen Weeks’ former home. A developer had purchased the lot and proceeded with demolition. Historians had no chance to document or reclaim any portion of the structure for study or reuse. This story is playing out today with the demolition of three century-old buildings for expansion of the EMC Insurance Companies in downtown Des Moines.

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Victorian Home in Danger of DemolitionVictorian Home in Danger of DemolitionIs there an abandoned home in your neighborhood that you would like to see saved? Perhaps a unique vacant storefront or even a cool gas station? Here is your chance to get some publicity for a building you think we all should know about: the Des Moines Rehabbers Club is seeking nominations for the 3rd Annual "Most Endangered Buildings" list!

An old railroad depot, a one-room schoolhouse, and a decaying Victorian home are all finalists from past years' lists.

There are two ways to nominate a building:

  1. Register (for free) at http://RenovateDSM.com and fill out the online nomination form - you must be logged in to view this form.
  2. Print a nomination form, fill it out, and mail it back.

Nominations are DUE by October 8, 2010. More information about the Most Endangered Buildings list can be found on the Des Moines Rehabbers Club website at http://renovatedsm.com/node/593.

Individuals and organizations are encouraged to nominate endangered buildings that they would like to see saved.

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Victorian Home in Danger of Demolition: This home is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list and may be demolished if deficiencies are not corrected in a timely manner.Victorian Home in Danger of Demolition: This home is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list and may be demolished if deficiencies are not corrected in a timely manner.A charred Sherman Hill mansion and a former one-room schoolhouse have been named among “Des Moines Seven Most Endangered Buildings” by the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. Over the period of about a month, the Club received nominations from the public for buildings, homes, and other structures within the City of Des Moines in danger of demolition or neglect. The resulting list will help raise awareness of endangered structures in Des Moines and promote opportunities for rehabilitating them.

In no particular order, the following have been selected as “Des Moines Seven Most Endangered Buildings”. Visit http://renovatedsm.com/node/316 for more information and photos of the buildings.

  • 692 17th Street, Sherman Hill neighborhood.
  • East Woodlawn School, 2930 Euclid Avenue.
  • 1910 Officer’s Quarters, Fort Des Moines.
  • Kingsway Cathedral Church, 901 19th Street.
  • Roadside Settlement House, 620 Scott Avenue.
  • Gas Station, 203 E. Grand.
  • 1021 26th Street.

The last one on this list is on the City's "Public Nuisance" list. Being listed as a public nuisance is technically a legal action, and subjects the owner to fines if the deficiencies are not corrected. Ultimately, if the items listed on the public nuisance action are not remedied, the structure may be demolished by the City.

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The Des Moines Rehabbers Club seeks nominations from the public to name "Des Moines' Seven Most Endangered Buildings." Neighborhood groups, individuals, and businesses are encouraged to submit nominations for buildings in danger of demolition or neglect. Nomination forms are available for download at http://renovatedsm.com/node/305 and must be received by September 22, 2008.

Eligible buildings must be located within the city of Des Moines, must be threatened with active demolition or severe neglect, and should not be in a condition that is beyond the possibility of rehabilitation. Buildings may be residential or commercial, of any size and being used for any purpose. The list will be announced in mid-October.

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