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The City of Des Moines wants to know what places residents value as they update Historic Preservation Plan


Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines is on the National Register of Historic Places. -Lily DeTaeye/Little Village

Although Des Moines was incorporated as a city in 1851, the very first Historic Preservation Plan was created for Des Moines in 1995. Implementation of the 1995 plan included the maintenance of several brick streets, new zoning rules for infill development in historic neighborhoods, the nomination of several districts into the National Register of Historic Places, and guidelines for updating the plan in the future.

This year, the city began the first phase of creating an updated Historic Preservation Plan by surveying stakeholders to see what they wanted to preserve in the city.

“The old plan was not as focused on intangible and cultural resources,” urban designer Stacey Hanley told Little Village. “There is a lot of movement now in the historic preservation world of looking at historic preservation more holistically and including not just built tangible elements, but cultural and more intangible elements. Things like cultural festivals or grocery stores that are important to a neighborhood.”

In order to prioritize the places that Des Moines residents care about, the city is asking for public input via an online survey that is open now. The survey will close on Oct. 28, 2022.

“So a big push of this Historic Preservation Plan is reaching out to all of the people of Des Moines and finding out, what places do you value?” Hanley said. “What stories do you want to tell? What places do you want to preserve, remember, honor, celebrate, learn from … through an equity and inclusive lens?”

Overall, drafting the new plan will take about 14 months to complete and is broken into five phases. There will be several opportunities for residents and stakeholder groups to provide input along the way. Once the plan is drafted, it will be adopted by city council and implementation will begin.

Des Moines residents can follow along with the progress of the plan on this webpage. As the project continues, updates will be posted to the webpage as well.


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