History on the move

By Alex Payne.

A historic row house rolled its way down Locust in Des Moines late Wednesday.

As the 530,000-pound row house was moving, the sight of a two story brick building rolling down the street brought many people out of clubs like the Locust Tap, the Blazing Saddle and the Lime Lounge around 1 a.m. Thursday.

The move started right before midnight with a presentation by the Des Moines Historical Society.

The society presented developer Jake Christensen with a certificate for saving the row house and a one-year membership to the organization for his efforts to preserve the Des Moines historic landmark.

The historical society also made the row house the first recipient of the organization’s new Centennial Certificate Program.

The historic building was designated by the city of Des Moines as a Historic Landmark in 2000, and scheduled to be demolished in early 2013 by the state to make room for the capital garden extension.

A notice printed in the Des Moines Register on Jan. 28 requested bids for demolition of the landmark. After seeing the notice, the Des Moines Historical Society was able to gain access to the building for a member’s only tour Feb. 9.

After the tour, historical society officials decided to try to save the row house from the wrecking ball.

Members of the organization’s board of directors contacted local news outlets to try to get the word out. Stories on WHO-TV and in the Des Moines Register drew attention to the historical society’s effort.

A ‘Save the Row House’ Facebook page and fundraising page was started to try to raise the money to move the local landmark. The City of Des Moines offered to donate a former city parking lot behind the Lime Lounge for the row house to be relocated to.

“The Des Moines Historical Society is proud to have played a part in saving this historic building,” said historical society President Sarah Oltrogge in a press release.

Christensen stepped up and decided to save the landmark.

“I decided to move forward with the effort when the State, City and Historic preservation office committed to help make it financially possible,” Christensen said.

Christensen has worked on developing many East Village buildings including Zombie Burger and Northwestern Hotel.

“It is the only surviving row house on the east side of the river in an area that was once covered with row houses,” Christensen said. “It should survive another 125 years in the new location.”

Prominent Des Moines businessman Samuel Green built the row house in 1894. The house served as a home to various people until 1935.

The state purchased the row house in 2006 for $412,000 to make way for the Capitol West Terrace project. The project would grow to create a sprawling green space with gardens, memorials and fountains.

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