HISTORIC HOMES: Open Door To The Past

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You can open the door to the past this weekend and next on the Sherman Hill Home Tour. This is the 37th year for the walking tour of the historic Des Moines neighborhood.

David Schlarmann shows a home on 16th Street saying, "It's not quite finished, but it's close."

The Garver House is in the middle of a major makeover. Schlarmann says, "We were on the tour last year, and so people came through. It really, it looked like a bomb had hit it."

Schlarmann is renovating this historic house built in 1895. He says, "It was built by the Garver family. The Garver family was big in the coal mining industry here in Des Moines, and Carlton Garver was actually Mayor of Des Moines in 1937 for 4 years."

Garver's two sons and their families lived in the home until the 1940's. The home was then used as a nursing home. It was eventually empty for years. Schlarmann says, "We have found various samples around the house of original trim, either baseboard or window trim, and we're trying to restore as much of that as we can."

The duplex should be finished by next month with a three bedroom/three bath available for rent. It’s in a neighborhood Schlarmann says has really come a long way. He says, "Shermann Hill, when we first moved here in 1998, a lot of our close friends were very worried about us, moving to the hood, if you will."

Shermann Hill is now home to 150 homes and apartment buildings, many of which are being rehabilitated to the original form. Last year, two thousand people strolled through the historic district during the Sherman Hill Home tour. Debbie Martin says, "We do this to bring people into the neighborhood to see the uniqueness of the neighborhood, as well as the livability of the neighborhood."

You can tour 12 homes each weekend. And, this year the tour features a few old homes that are new to the neighborhood. Martin says, "We are featuring some moved homes that have either been moved into the neighborhood or within the neighborhood" She goes on to say, "They were brought into the neighborhood for a reason. I think because of the history. They want to save homes and renovate them and preserve, so this was the best neighborhood to do it."

Some homes are lived in and some are still being worked on. Schlarmann says, "It takes a lot of sweat equity sometimes, but it's real rewarding, when you're finished and you kind of see what the finished product is going to look like."

The Sherman Hill Home tour is this weekend and next from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advance tickets are $10 or $15 for both weekends. This year visitors will also enjoy live music on the Wallace House porch on 16th Street.