Educational Resources for Students and Teachers

Hoyt Sherman Place is a historic location dating back to its creation in 1877. Not only was it the home to Hoyt Sherman, one of Des Moines' founding fathers, but it also comprises the first art gallery in Des Moines (1907) and a historic theater (1923), both added by the Des Moines Women's Club.
Find educational resources below to help your students discover the significance of this historic treasure.

Hoyt Sherman: Venturing into the Unknown

This lesson will explain why Hoyt Sherman decided to take a chance and leave his home to venture west to explore unknown lands in hopes of opportunity and prosperity.

When Hoyt Sherman arrived in Des Moines in 1848, the population was only 127. He took on many jobs and roles that helped Des Moines become a business and cultural center. He studied law and passed the Iowa Bar in 1849. He worked with other community leaders to establish post offices, schools, waterworks, banks, and railways. This gave Des Moines a strong infrastructure for increasing the population rapidly. The population increased to 22,000 in 1880 and to 50,000 in 1890. His business and law background gave him the knowledge to create Equitable Life Insurance Company. This was a huge boost to the economy of Des Moines and helped to establish it as one of the insurance capitals of the world, which it remains to be to this day.

The Sherman family had a big impact on the United States during the mid-1800s. Other family members include Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, John Sherman, writer of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, Ohio Senator and Secretary of Treasury, and Lampson Sherman, newspaper owner and mayor of Des Moines.


Curiculum Standards

  • SS.2.20: History (Analyze)
  • SS.3.2: Supporting questions
  • SS.3.5: Conclusions
  • SS.3.16: Financial Literacy
  • SS.3.27: History (Immigration and Migration)

Venturing Into the Unknown PDF (slideshow)

Student Study Guide

Teacher Study Guide Companion

Byers Collection

Samuel Hawkins Marshall (S.H.M.) and Margaret Byers donated a large collection of art, furniture, and artifacts to Des Moines Women's Club in 1912. S.H.M. Byers was a Civil War Veteran, United States Consul-General to Switzerland and Italy, a writer, and a poet. This education piece will explore the man who contributed so much to Iowa and to the history of the United States.

Student Study Guide SHM Byers

Teacher Study Guide Companion SHM Byers

Hoyt Sherman Place Art History

Des Moines Women's Club started collecting art in 1893 at the Chicago World's Fair. Once they secured a meeting place at Hoyt Sherman Place in 1907, they built the first public art gallery in Des Moines. The women were true supporters of art and artists in the community.

Some of the artists in the collection include:

Otto Van Veen (Flemish artist and the teacher of Paul Peter Rubens)

Robert Reid

Thomas Moran

George Inness

Edwin Lord Weeks

Robert Schultze

Elihu Vedder

Charles A. Cumming

Clarence Baldwin

David John Gue

For best results, use this study guide while touring the Hoyt Sherman Place gallery.

Pick a Painting Student Study Guide

Pick a Painting Teacher Companion Guide

Hoyt Sherman's Victorian Mansion

Hoyt Sherman Place includes an intimate theater, a historic mansion, and a majestic art gallery. The first structure was Hoyt Sherman's family home. It was built in 1877. After his death in 1904, it was sold to the city of Des Moines, and in 1907, it became the "clubhouse" for the Des Moines Women's Club. They added the art gallery in 1907 and the theater in 1923.

The Mansion Study Guide will help explain some of the differences between Victorian architecture and the architecture of today.

Victorian Mansion Student Study Guide

Mansion Study Guide Teacher Companion

Hoyt Sherman Place