OUR HISTORY

FOUNDED IN 1885 BY A SMALL GROUP OF COMMUNITY-MINDED WOMEN. IN APPRECIATION OF THE CLUB'S RICH HERITAGE, CURRENT MEMBERS SHARE THE CONTINUED COMMITMENT OF THE EARLY MEMBERS TO PRESERVE HOYT SHERMAN PLACE AND ITS VALUABLE CONTENTS FOR THE ENJOYMENT, EDUCATION AND ENRICHMENT OF THE PUBLIC. 

COMMITTEES FUNCTION THROUGHOUT THE YEAR TO PLAN AND IMPLEMENT THE MANY CLUB ACTIVITIES. MEMBERS EXERCISE THEIR TALENTS AND CREATIVITY AS THEY PLAN INFORMATIVE PROGRAMS, FUND RAISING ACTIVITIES, SPECIAL LUNCHEONS, AND CARD PARTIES. THE CLUB AWARDS SEVERAL SCHOLARSHIPS EACH YEAR AND SPONSORS AN ANNUAL ART EXHIBITION WITH CASH AWARDS TO BOTH PROFESSIONAL AND NON-PROFESSIONAL AREA ARTISTS.

IN 1907, AN ADDITION TO THE ORIGINAL HOME WAS BUILT TO HOUSE ARTWORK OBTAINED BY THE WOMEN'S CLUB. THIS BECAME THE FIRST PUBLIC ART GALLERY IN DES MOINES.

HOYT SHERMAN PLACE IS A BEAUTIFULLY PRESERVED TREASURE OF THE VICTORIAN ERA WITH A 1253 SEAT THEATER RECENTLY RESTORED TO ITS ORIGINAL GRANDEUR. IT WAS PLACED ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF  HISTORIC PLACES IN 1977.

You can find searchable minutes of the club's first fifty years on the Iowa Digital Heritage website.  (Browse under Societies, Organizations, clubs.

Club History Blog Posts:

View Additional Club Histories:

Pride in Our Past, by Idabelle Forker, former Club Historian

Early Club Art

Hoyt Sherman Biography

Our First President, Dr. Margaret Cleaves, president 1885-1886

125 Year History

Centennial History

A Chronicle or Realistic Picture in Words of the Origin Founding and Early History of the Des Moines Women's Club, by Mrs. C. B. Van Slyke.  Given at Hoyt Sherman Place for Nominees' Club on Welfare Day, March 31, 1920.

Annual Address, Martha C. Callanan, President, September 28, 1887

The Des Moines Women's Club in 1917 and 1918, Florence (Mrs. Gardner) Cowles, President