MISSION: Hoyt Sherman Place creates outstanding experiences for the cultural, historic and educational benefit of Iowa’s residents and communities.
VISION: Hoyt Sherman Place will be a premier historic cultural center in Iowa, working with national and local partners to present outstanding performances, celebrate Iowa’s history and grow arts and culture in the region.
MAJOR HOYT SHERMAN, 1827-1904
Born in 1827, Hoyt Sherman was the youngest son of eleven children. His family included older brothers, John Sherman, the writer of Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Hoyt Sherman arrived in Des Moines in 1848, and shortly thereafter, he was appointed Postmaster. He built the first post office and bank, he served on the town council, and he was very involved in local and state politics. In 1850, Hoyt purchased five acres of land for $105. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him the Army Paymaster at the start of the Civil War, with the rank of Major.
Upon his return, Hoyt teamed up with others and created Equitable of Iowa Insurance Company. During this time, he also gave his counsel, his time, and his money to ensure Des Moines had schools, including a college, a waterworks system, and many more facilities.
FAMILY HOME BUILT
In 1877, the Sherman family home was completed with the help of architect William Foster. Almost immediately, it was noted in writings to be, “a society showplace of the grandest scale.” Among its distinguished guests in history were General Sherman, General Grant, General Sheridan, and Major McKinley.
Sherman and his wife, Sara, raised five children, Frank, Addie, Charles, Arthur, and Helen, in the home. Major Hoyt Sherman passed away in January 1904, and his estate transferred to his heirs. They later gifted the entire estate to the city of Des Moines, with the caveat that it forever be called Hoyt Sherman Place.
SISTERS OF MERCY
DES MOINES WOMEN’S CLUB
Hoyt Sherman Place stood empty after Hoyt Sherman’s death until 1907 when members of Des Moines Women’s Club leased the home from the city for $1 per year.
Des Moines Women’s Club, founded in 1885, built a gallery adjacent to the mansion. The space became the first public art museum in Des Moines.
Hoyt Sherman Place is still home for Des Moines Women’s Club. They meet every Wednesday, October through May. For more information, visit their website.