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aerial view hoyt sherman place

Hoyt Sherman Place receives approval for $500,000 Lawn Enhancement Project

The construction of an outdoor plaza/stage at the southern edge of Hoyt Sherman Place’s property will move forward after receiving approval from both the City of Des Moines and State Historic Preservation Commissions. Because the location of the plaza is situated at the bottom of the south lawn, parallel to Woodland Avenue, the historic viewshed of Hoyt Sherman Place’s façade will be preserved, and the hill will create a natural amphitheater for outdoor concerts and events.

The design features a circular stage area with a formal staircase that connects the plaza/stage to the sidewalk with brick pillars, which will match Hoyt Sherman Place’s exterior. The proposal also includes additional trees to be planted along the existing walkways leading up the south lawn. The plantings include five Osage Orange trees that are grafts from the trees that line President Lincoln’s gravesite in Illinois, which serves as a connection to the history of Major Hoyt Sherman, a Des Moines Founding Father and brother to General William Tecumseh Sherman, who served in the Civil War under President Lincoln. The lawn improvements also reference and bring to life past plans that had been proposed for the lawn but never came to fruition.

The proposed stage is intended to host outdoor music events that take place on the lawn as well as other community and neighborhood events such as movie nights and Halloween on the Hill.  Improvements to the already existing sidewalks will also increase ADA-accessibility for those attending these types of events with wider walkways and a complete accessible route from the parking lot on the east side of the lawn to the west.

Shade sails and associated structures and footings were installed on the lawn in summer 2022 to provide shade for outdoor music events. Hoyt Sherman Place will retain these structures until the lawn enhancement project is complete. Once removed, these structures will be donated to the Oakridge Community where they’ll be repurposed as shades for playground equipment.

The project was launched by a lead gift from Kemin Industries. Other funding opportunities are being sought. For more information about the project, or to donate, contact Robert Warren.

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