Agreement Reached to Move and Preserve Historic Gas Station

Historic East Village seeks donations by March 17, 2009 to assist with move

Posted by CC for Sarah Oltrogge, Historic East Village on March 15th, 2009 3:00 pm

JSC Properties signed an agreement with Historic East Village Inc. to move the structure formerly known as Don’s East Grand Texaco at 203 E. Grand to another East Village location with the ultimate goal of preserving the building. HEV’s board of directors voted Feb. 23 to take the lead as the responsible party for facilitating moving the historic gas station.

HEV is actively raising money to cover the estimated $60,000 cost of moving the building. Already, nearly $40,000 has been pledged to save the building, including $10,000 from the Patty and Jim Cownie Charitable Fund of the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation. This single $10,000 donation is twice the amount it would cost to raze the building.

“This agreement marks the first step in saving the structure and we appreciate HEV’s commitment to its preservation,” said Paul Hayes of JSC Properties. “We are pleased to work with HEV, and to support this community and neighborhood effort with a charitable contribution from the Cownies.”

Other pledges have come from DesignSmith, ConocoPhillips Corporation, private individuals and HEV. In addition, the group anticipates receiving an emergency grant from the State Historical Society. Enough funds must be raised by March 17, 2009, to ensure the building is moved. A pledge form is available at

HEV will move the gas station to a temporary location until a permanent owner can be found. The group is holding discussions with local developers and the City of Des Moines to secure temporary placement in East Village. The HEV Board voted to hire Mike Kinter Construction Consulting to complete all necessary preparatory work.

“This is a huge step for Historic East Village, Inc., as we are an all-volunteer nonprofit board,” said HEV President Sarah Oltrogge. “It shows our commitment to maintaining the integrity of the East Village neighborhood by preserving its history.”

The gas station building dates back to 1931 when it was erected by The Continental Oil Company (now ConocoPhillips) as a training station for gas dealers. Constructed of terra cotta in the Spanish Mission Revival style of architecture, the building served the east side of downtown Des Moines as a gas and service station nearly 80 years. JSC Properties, which is owned by Jim Cownie, acquired the property in August of 2008 as part of a larger real estate transaction. Cownie plans to develop the property as a parking lot.

Before inking this agreement, Hayes of JSC Properties had talked with a couple potential buyers who wanted to save the building. Ultimately, none of those discussions progressed because of the high costs involved in moving and construction. After consulting with Jack Porter of the State Historical Society, JSC and HEV started talking about two weeks ago, and those discussions led to this agreement and plan.

Initial research determined the building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, though it is not currently listed. HEV is working with the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure the move is handled in a manner that does not jeopardize the historic character of the building.

In October 2008, the Des Moines Rehabber’s Club named the structure one of seven “Most Endangered Properties” in Des Moines.

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