S.S. Brinsmaid House at 36th & Grand

The S.S. Brinsmaid house was the earliest known Prairie style house in Iowa.  It was designed by architect Arthur A. Heun and built in 1901 on the northeast corner of 36th and Grand.  Unfortunately, it was demolished in 1971.  The above images are part of the Library of Congress’s Historic American buildings Survey.

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Sedgwick S. Brinsmaid came to Iowa from Vermont.  He and his wife lived in the house until 1912 when they sold it along with his portion of a local china, glass, and silver store and moved to California.

Leaded glass pieces from the home are housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  They were designed by Heun and manufactured by Giannini and Hilgart Glass Company.

For more Des Moines properties included in  Library of Congress’ Historic American Buildings Survey, click here.

Des Moines Architectural Surveys

The Drake Neighborhood Architectural Survey is now published on the city website.  The report has eight parts and is hundreds of pages long.  It is quite impressive.   Currently, you may view it on the city’s community development page.  It is about halfway down under “Plan.”

What is in this survey?  Well, you will find current house images, a list of “lost houses,” architectural types, who built them, original construction ads, and much more.  So, if you are researching your home or property in Des Moines, you should see if it falls into a completed architectural survey.  You may just hit the jackpot!

Other neighborhood surveys available at DMPL:  Capital East, Cottage Grove, Chautauqua Park,  Sylvan Theater district, and Riverbend.  Riverbend’s survey is a part of “Towards a Greater Des Moines,” which is a 6 volume survey focusing on early suburbanization and development of Des Moines.

Need more help?  Check out this previous post:  Finding Your Home’s History and/or talk to your librarian.

Capital Insurance Company, 1906


Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1906.

Des Moines Self-Tour

There are a bunch of historic places worth visiting in Des Moines and with the weather cooling off a little, you can actually enjoy being outdoors.   To see a little history of Des Moines visit the Historic Places page of our Local History Wiki.  There are two historic tour maps, a map and list of places on the National Register of Historic Places, and a number of links to other historic places websites that focus on Des Moines and Polk County (Drake’s Historic Des Moines collection is very nice).

The great thing about this tour is that you can access it on your phone or computer anywhere with an Internet connection.

Historic Tour 1

Historic Tour 2 (images soon to come)

Print version of the Historic Tour.

So go ahead and enjoy a digital tour of historic places in Des Moines.

Happy New Year!

Wow! This is one fancy card, I bet the Cole’s of Colchester Place threw and awesome new year’s party.

Really, I wish I knew more about this card. It was filed in an envelope all by itself in our Special Collections room at the Central Library. I assume it was sent out by Mrs. C.C. Cole since she is listed on the card, and the rest of the names listed on the card are either “Mrs.” or “Miss.”

I did a little bit of digging, and there was an announcement in the January 1st, 1878 Iowa State Register (Des Moines Register) indicating that Mrs. C.C. Cole would be “receiving calls” at Colchester Place and would be assisted by, well, all of the women listed on the card. It must have been quite the gathering if Mrs. Cole needed 33 assistants (by my count).

Colchester Place was the residence of Judge C.C. Cole, his wife Amanda M. Cole, and their five children (two sons and three daughters).  The residence was located at 708 Fourth Street.

Image of Residence:

Andreas, A. T. 1875. A.T. Andreas’ illustrated historical atlas of the State of Iowa. p. 143.

Biographical Information from:

Portrait and biographical album of Polk County, Iowa, containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county. 1890. Chicago: Lake City Pub. Co.

Des Moines Images, 1907

From: Souvenir of Des Moines, L.H. Nelson Co., 1907.

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To see more images, visit Des Moines Public Library’s Special Collections photostream on Flickr.

Finding Your Home’s History

A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference session about researching your historic property.  Paula Mohr from the State Historic Preservation Office provided a great presentation.  You may view the presentation she shared with us below.

***You may access the Sanborn maps through the DMPL website here.  You just need your library card and PIN numbers (PINs are sometimes the last 4 of your phone number).

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