Groundbreaking for the Temple for Performing Arts was March 13, 1911. This downtown gem is listed on the National Register of Historic Places under its original name, Masonic Temple of Des Moines. It was placed on the list in 1997, five years before renovations began.
Copies of original blueprints of the building can be found in the third floor boardroom. Some of those blueprints are included here, drawn up by the premiere architecture firm in Iowa at the time, Proudfoot Bird & Rawson. The drawings include reserved space for a banquet room, the main lodge, and a fan room – the early 1900’s version of air conditioning.
The Temple has seen many tenants in its 100 year history including Brown Motor Company that sold Maxwell Automobiles, a life insurance company and even a wig shop. The largest and longest tenant was the Des Moines Water Works. They began renting in 1917 with one office and by 1981 they occupied almost all of the leased space in the building. They moved out four years later to their current location near Gray’s Lake. Now, the Des Moines Symphony Academy is the largest tenant, residing in parts of the third, fourth and fifth floors.
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