Then and now

Byron Henry must have been feeling quite prosperous in 1918 when he moved from 1234 9th Street to 4995 Country Club Boulevard, which at that time was one of only a handful of houses in the area. He had joined Phillip Schmitt’s furniture company in 1890, and in 1903 the business moved into their new factory on Southwest 8th and Elm. It grew rapidly to eventually include not only the already successful mattress factory, but upholstering and woodworking shops, shipping and warehouse space and retail furniture sales. In 1942, it became a manufacturer of Sealy mattresses. Sealy vacated the premises when they sold it in 1989, and the building is now home to Riverpoint Lofts. If you look closely at the picture of the lofts, you can still make out “Schmitt & Henry Manufacturing” at the top of the building.

Sawyer and Watrous was a Des Moines architectural firm formed in 1905 and incorporated in 1929 by Ralph E. Sawyer and Charles A. Watrous (son of Charles L. Watrous, for whom Watrous Avenue is named). From The Midwestern of October 1908 comes this passage – “Mr. Sawyer is an artist and a poet in his line as well as a highly and thoroughly trained architect. He is also a “Tech” graduate. His standing among Eastern architects is of the very highest and his coming to Iowa means much for the future building in the state. Mr. Watrous is an enthusiast in regard to the possibilities for Des Moines. He is also anxious to promote the use of reinforced concrete for building purposes. This firm will have the landscape work also in charge, maintaining that the house should fit into the surroundings… Des Moines is certainly fortunate in adding them to its list of builders.” Mr. Watrous died in 1940 and Mr. Sawyer in 1947.

Byron Henry lived in the house until his death in 1947.

This picture is from the Chamber of Commerce publication, Des Moines, February 1917…


…and this current photograph is from the Polk County Assessor’s website.


This photo is from



Des Moines Register, April 6, 2004.

Des Moines Register, January 22, 1997.

Des Moines, February 1917.

The Midwestern, October 1908.

Iowa’s historic architects: A biographical dictionary by Wesley Shank, University of Iowa Press, 1999.

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