Des Moines Historical Society Invites Community to Celebrate Move of Local Landmark

Historic Row House Will Move Wednesday

Posted on September 23rd, 2013 8:27 am

DES MOINES – The Des Moines Historical Society will host a public event this week to celebrate the successful effort to save one of Des Moines’ last remaining row houses.

The Samuel Green / Norden Hall Row House will be moved the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. The public is invited to gather in front of the row house, located at E. 7th and E. Locust Street, at 11 p.m. The row house will move from its foundation to its new location at East 4th Street and East Grand at about midnight. Those who wish to attend are encouraged to park in the Capitol Complex parking ramp at the corner of East Grand/Pennsylvania Avenue.

Additionally, as part of the celebration, the Des Moines Historical Society will make a special presentation to Jake Christensen, the developer who saved the building from demolition.

“The Des Moines Historical Society is proud to have played a part in saving this historic building,” said DMHS President Sarah Oltrogge. “This is a celebration of our history and our future coming together. I encourage everyone to come down Wednesday night and witness this enormous undertaking that has been many months in the making.”

Row House History
1886: After 15 years of construction, the State Capitol building opens.

1894: The row house is built by local prominent businessman Samuel Green, who built a successful foundry and furnace works business together with his two sons. Green only lived there a few years, however. His residence at the time of his death in 1915 was on Capitol Avenue in Des Moines.

1910-1935: Private residence by various occupants.

1935-1946: Cloyd M. Morrison offers furnished rooms for boarders and legislators.

1946-1950: Private residence by various occupants.

1950-1980s: Owned by the Swedish group The Norden Singers as a practice/community hall.

1980s-2006: Private residence by various occupants.

2000: Designated as a Local Landmark in the City of Des Moines.

2006: Purchased by the State of Iowa for $412,000.

2007: Capitol West Terrace project underway. State considers options for use of row house and adjacent buildings, including demolition.

2009: Capitol West Terrace completed.

2010: Des Moines Rehabber’s Club names row house one of Des Moines’ Most Endangered Properties.

January, 2013: State issues a request for proposals to demolish the building.

March 5, 2013: The Local Landmark Review Board (comprised of the Historic Preservation Commission and the Urban Design Review Board), convenes to consider a request from the State to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness that would allow demolition of the row house. An informal motion was made and passed to deny the request.

March 11, 2013: Des Moines City Council agenda includes item to set public hearing date on the issuance of the CoA. The item is deferred until March 25 in the hopes parties could work together to move the building.

March 17, 2013: City offers land for row house at E. 4th/E. Grand Ave. Des Moines Historical Society begins social media campaign after State sets final demo date of March 27, 2013.

April, 2013: Jake Christensen renews his bid to move and save the row house. Work begins to research the row house for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and historic tax credit incentives.

April 30, 2013: Iowa Senate passes amendment to House File 638 to put in language that gives $250,000 “for the disposition and relocation of structure located at 707 East Locust and 709 East Locust, Des Moines, Iowa.”

May 6, 2013: Des Moines City Council approves redevelopment proposal at 425 East Grand, currently a city-owned parking lot, where the row house will be relocated. The cost of developing the building into a restaurant and offices is
estimated at $1.2 million.

June 18, 2013: City of Des Moines Landmark Review Board recommends the row house remain a Local Landmark in its new location. Also, the Urban Design Review Board approves the site plan at 425 East Grand.

June 20, 2013: City of Des Moines Plan & Zoning approve both the site plan and the Local Landmark nomination. Proposal includes a 1,809 sq. ft. addition to the rear of the row house.

June 24, 2013: Des Moines City Council approves the issuance of the Certificate of Appropriateness for the relocation of Norden Hall, from 709 E. Locust, terminating the designation as a Local Landmark and designating 425 E. Grand Avenue as a Local Landmark upon relocation to that address.

July, 2013: Prep works begins to remove and demolish structures adjacent to the row house. Adjacent structures removed by end of month.

Aug. 23, 2013: Proposed design for the relocated row house is released. Shows building use as restaurant.

Sept. 4: Developer announces move date of Sept. 26 (later changed to Sept. 25).

The Des Moines Historical Society has the purpose of promoting the preservation and study of the history and heritage of Des Moines, Iowa. To this goal, DMHS works to get the community engaged and involved in Des Moines’ rich history by holding special events and quarterly meetings with relevant topics. Visit for more information.