I am proud of the Silent Rivers team and our partners as we announce the completion of a special project in Des Moines. The “Green & Main Pilot Project” was an initiative to develop an older two-story brick masonry building as a prototype for sustainable building practices and preservation of older buildings. Today the site on the northwest corner of 19th and Center Streets in the Sherman Hill District exemplifies this mission.
Our purpose is to inform others how to renovate buildings and neighborhoods in ways that will decrease our carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, promote better use of materials, and create self-sustaining, thriving communities. By reducing our impact we can continue to protect our future and the future of generations to come.
Transformation: The Green & Main Story
In this first entry in the “Green & Main Series” we tell the history of the Green & Main Pilot Project building and share some early photos of its use before Silent Rivers acquired it.
If you are a Des Moines resident born before 1970 you may remember the grocery store at the northwest corner of Center and 19th Street in the Sherman Hill District, an area rich with memories of residential and commercial buildings co-existing and supporting one another.
Formerly known as the H&H Grocery Store, the presence of the two-story brick building contributed to the neighborhood’s designation as the Sherman Hill National Historic District. It is one of a few corner store sites that still exist in this urban neighborhood and the building gives solid evidence of a pedestrian-friendly way of life that existed here early in the 20th century when small-scale mixed-use commercial buildings were located within residential neighborhoods.
Before it was H&H Grocery
Records show that as early as 1880 this brick building housed tenants while a “lightning rod and pump dealership” also existed at this location. In 1885 the property was purchased by a long-time Des Moines grocer who opened a grocery in the storefront portion of the building. This address was also the site of the family’s dwelling. The grocery was owned and operated by a number of individuals over the next several decades. By 1936, the city directory indicates the grocery still existed at this location with three tenants residing on the second floor.
The store was named the H&H Grocery by owner Eldon Hockmuth, who operated the store from 1946 until 1966, at which time it continued to be operated by a member of his family into the 1970’s. When the building was surveyed as part of the Sherman Hill Historic District National Register Nomination in 1979, Cleo Hudson and “Hockmuth & D. Brown” were listed as owners. Sometime thereafter the building was abandoned and left to disrepair.
Prior to the recent rebuilding of the current Martin Luther King Junior Parkway, the building sat at an extremely busy corner with traffic flowing in and out of downtown Des Moines to the freeway. Today, bus lines continue to run past this building, making it highly visible in the neighborhood.
History Reveals Itself During Renovations
You can learn more about the history of the building in:
- Green & Main Shows Off ‘New’ Maple Flooring… and Gives Salvaged Gym Floor a New Home
- Unexpected Historic Discovery: Trolley Line is Unearthed during Sewer Project
The Green and Main Pilot Project is an example of historic preservation and sustainable renovation that is part of Des Moines’ Sherman Hill neighborhood.
Coming in September:
Part 2: Green & Main Renovation Work Begins
Visit the Green & Main site for many more stories about this sustainable historic renovation project by Silent Rivers.