It was April 13th, 1912, and Des Moines had big news. The city’s power players had joined together to open “The Des Moines Club” at 800 Locust Street.
“Newspaper articles referred to it as being as fine as any club in the country at the time," says GM, Michael LaValle, "it was a big source of pride in Des Moines to have the facility.”
Its posh amenities were poised to hog the headlines for days, but on April 14th, guess what?
The Titanic sank in the north Atlantic and there went the headlines!
But the Des Moines Club was unsinkable. Founding members were the richest men in town.
“All the names if you look back on the old membership rolls and the club officials, you’ll find them on a lot of public buildings, a lot of street signs around town,” LaValle says.
Before Witmer had a park and Polk had a boulevard, they had the Des Moines Club and it had everything — even a nap room!
“If you were a hard-working person needing to catch a 10-minute snooze, you could at the club…play billiards, you could stay overnight, you could put up your friends in one of the sleeping rooms…”
In 1975, the club was moving on up — to the top of the Ruan Center (such was the 70s fad) Its views are still among the best in the state.
“You come in here in the evening with the candlelight and you see the lights of the city and the lights of the chandeliers -- it’s special,” says Director of Administration, Doug Crain.
Friday night, there will be a 100th Birthday Party at the club. Food and wine and some seriously posh Scotch, this stuff will bring $275 for a one-ounce pour. Wow, you say? Yeah, that’s what it’s always been about.
“People are always willing to pay extra for extra service," Crain adds.
Back in 1912, it gave Des Moines’ well-to-do a place to indulge. It’s rumored some had considered a cruise.