Major Hoyt Sherman • 1827 - 1904
Born in 1827, Hoyt Sherman was the youngest son of eleven children. His family included older brothers, John Sherman, writer of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and General William Tecumseh Sherman, Civil War Hero.
Hoyt arrived in Des Moines in 1848 and shortly thereafter was appointed postmaster. He built the first post office, and bank, served on the town council and was very involved in local and state politics. President Lincoln appointed him Army paymaster at the start of the Civil War with the rank of Major.
Upon his return, Hoyt teamed up with others and created Equitable of Iowa Insurance Company. During this time he also gave his counsel, time and money to ensure that Des Moines had schools, a college, a waterworks system and many more facilites. Major Hoyt Sherman passed away in January of 1904.
The Des Moines Women's Club • 1907 -
Hoyt Sherman Place, built in 1877, stood empty after his death until 1907 when members of The Des Moines Women's Club began using it as their clubhouse. The Women's Club added a gallery to display their art collection and thus Hoyt Sherman Place became the first public art museum in the City of Des Moines. The Des Moines Women's Club, always active in the community, invited many guest speakers to Hoyt Sherman Place to entertain and educate. Speakers included: Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller and Grant Wood. Eventually they needed more room for their speakers and activities, and the 1400 seat theater was completed in 1923.