Big Changes Coming to Hoyt Sherman Place

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Big changes are coming to Hoyt Sherman Place, as the historic venue prepares for the next 100 years. Hoyt Sherman Place was originally built in 1877 as a private home, and the theater was later built in 1923.

"The auditorium or theater, as we call it today, was built specifically for the (Des Moines) Women`s Club, as their club house," said Robert Warren, Executive Director of Hoyt Sherman Place. "Anything behind that wall, dressing rooms, showers, rehearsal space, scenic storage, it doesn't exist. You go out the back door and you`re in the yard."

And that's a problem. The old theater is beautiful, but the venue simply doesn't have the amenities that are needed in this day and age.

"As we`ve improved the number of artists coming here, and the larger shows, they're moving a million dollars worth of equipment through a concrete slab, behind the building, and a lot of times they end up storing cases outside," said Warren. "So, that's a big issue for some of the touring groups that may decide we can`t make it work in your facility."

And when you've got Sugar Plum Fairies changing outside between the buildings in a tent, during The Nutcracker in December, things like privacy, security, and even convenience can become issues. That is why Hoyt Sherman is expanding and updating to meet today's modern demands.

"We`re gonna create a secure place for the artist to hang out during the day," said Warren. "Because they're going city to city, so that's a big plus, accessible dressing rooms, showers for the crew, laundry facility, and having the core office people be connected to the theater."

The yellow roses that can currently be seen outside of the facility outline where some of the expansions will be taking place.

"The yellow roses closest to the box office are the bathroom bump out and the ones in the back are the footprint," said Warren. "Yeah, we thought about putting portable toilets out there so people could really have a visual of where the bathrooms were gonna go, but we couldn't find 16 of them quick enough."

And as for that now famous painting that was discovered in a closet, Warren says it will soon be unveiled in all of its splendor and glory.

"(The) painting will be unveiled, we believe in January," said Warren. "...fully restored, security cameras are going in. We just have to get the greenlight from our insurance company. You know, all of a sudden we had a four million dollar painting in our midst and they weren’t happy with just locks on the doors."

News that the painting had been discovered made quite the splash.

“The painting that we found hidden in the attic, what a cool little bonus to have to put us not only in the regional spotlight, but internationally," said Warren. "You know, we were in 400 markets on the TV, front page of The New York Times, and to be listed in the recent issue of Time Magazine, as one of the greatest discoveries in the past decade, that’s pretty cool stuff.”


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