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Local Organization Will Restore Historic Des Moines Railroad Depot

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Bravo Greater Des Moines awarded $450,000 of capital campaign and project grants to 12 central Iowa arts, culture and heritage organizations. The biggest grant this year is $90,000 for the Des Moines Heritage Trust. They are using the money to restore a 99-year-old railroad depot on the East Side of Des Moines and build an event center.

“The Des Moines Heritage Trust is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the preservation of historic properties in the greater Des Moines, especially those that are endangered, like this property was,” Des Moines Heritage Trust Vice Chair Tim Waddell said.

The railroad depot, built in 1909, was where people from around the country arrived in Des Moines.

“This is where the governors of Iowa arrived, this is where the legislatures all arrived, this is where the important elected officials and judges all arrived and went up in their carriages to the state capital building, so it was a very important building,” Waddell said.

The grant will help restore the building to its original state as well as build an event center that will house five other organizations like the Des Moines Historical society to showcase artifacts and provide opportunities for education and cultural programming. The event center will also be available for rental for weddings, parties and receptions.

“Really unique spaces for people to get together and have interesting conversations, whether it’s about heritage or whether it’s about a piece of art or whether it’s around a performance, these are unique ways that we can build community in our region,” Bravo Greater Des Moines Executive Director Sally Dix said.

Dix said Bravo Greater Des Moines is a non-profit organization but 99.9% of Bravo’s funds come from hotel and motel tax dollars invested from local governments, Bravo uses the money to benefit cultural projects in Des Moines.

Dix said not only are the arts important to preserve history and bring people together, in a study bravo did last year, they found the arts, culture and heritage organizations in Des Moines brought in $185 million annually.

Construction on the depot will begin next spring and should be completed in 10 to 12 months. The depot is located at 120 E. 5th Street, right off of E. Court and directly behind the Des Moines Police Credit Union.