About the Project
Restoration of a derelict Victorian home in the heart of Des Moines' Sherman Hill Historic District.
This house, built circa 1890 in the late-Victorian style, is listed as a contributing resource to the Sherman Hill National Historic District. It was built for Manassah Sheuerman, the son of Leopold Sheuerman who made his fortune as the proprietor of the Capital City Woolen Mills. Sheuerman seems to have built the house as an investment. City Directories and the 1900 Census suggest that Sheuerman never actually lived in the house himself. The abstract for this house shows Sheuerman as the only legal owner from 1888 to 1908 while City Directories list several different families in residence there.
Edward H. Jones
For most of the time Manassah Sheuerman owned the house it was rented to Edward H. Jones. Jones was the son of an original Des Moines pioneer, J.W. Jones. Coincidentally, this house is situated on land that J.W. Jones once owned. The original Jones family homestead was bordered by Pleasant Street, Seventeenth Street, Woodland Avenue, and Nineteenth Street.
J.W. Jones, an architect and builder, instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in his son, Edward, who worked his way up through several retail businesses to the piano sales business where he made his name and fortune. It was during the years that he lived at 693 19th St. that he purchased a failed piano sales business, opened a piano factory in town, and began to grow the business into what would become one of the largest piano retailers in the state.
Typical of large Victorian-era homes, the home historically had a one-and-a-half story carriage house accessed from the back alley-way. This accessory buildings was built to house horses and carriage on the main floor, with living quarters for the "tender" on the second story, who tended to the home's boiler, gravity fed furnace, and equine duties of the Jones family. The carriage house and garage at 693 19th is non-extant, although it is shown in the northeast corner of the property on the 1901 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. A concrete slab remains where the carriage house and later garage once stood. Newspaper clippings from 1911 include ads for chickens, eggs, and a horse being sold from this address, indicating that the carriage house was still in use for housing animals.
The house was only owner-occupied for a few brief times in its history. Shortly after the Jones family moved out of the home in the early 1900s, there are newspaper clippings advertising "furnished rooms for rent". Between 1904 and 1911 the home was converted into multiple apartment dwellings for the first time, and rented out as sections of the home. The abstract indicates that most of the time the house was traded as a commodity and rented out to tenants, both long term and itinerant. In many ways this is in line with the social history of the neighborhood, however, this house was split into apartments earlier than most other large homes in the neighborhood, which were typically converted in the 1940s to accommodate the influx of GIs returning home from WWII. The Edward H. Jones House is also one of the last homes of similar stature to be deconverted back to a single family home. In recent decades the home has been subdivided into as many as 5-7 rental units.
After years of abuse and neglect, the interior and exterior integrity of this building are in very poor condition. However, sufficient clues to its past appearance survive to inform modern restoration efforts. See if you can spot some of them for yourself in the virtual walkthrough below, captured to document existing conditions before Rally Cap Properties begins restoration. An earlier restoration attempt in the 1990s of the rear facade and first floor layout made some inroads, although most of the modern "repairs" will need to be removed, as they were not done in a workmanlike fashion, nor were they historically appropriate.
As you explore, here are some of the important architectural clues to the building's past:
"Stick Style" siding details revealed under multiple layers of cover-up siding (steep roof pitch, gabled facades, vertical wood trim, decorative cut vergeboards on all gables, and a band feature of vertical sticking)
A convex scooped soffit detail that gracefully curves back from the gutter edge up to the meeting of the soffit to the house
A portion of the original front porch roof and decorative side detail on the north canopy edge, scarring on the building and and door threshold framing at the south bumpout suggest a wraparound design
Half-round metal gutters and downspouts, some of which are still in-place
Exterior cellar entrance to basement, and small concrete stairs where the original rear porch door was located
One original wooden double-hung window located in the stair landing, exposed framing indicate the original window sizes throughout, all of which have been downsized over the years
Original wideplank wood flooring on the first floor, located underneath the thin "wooden carpet" flooring installed during early apartment conversions & warped in many places from persistent water damage
Portions of the original foyer staircase, including certain treads and stringer board
One original transom window and door casing discovered above a drop-down ceiling in the second floor hallway
Original window casing that was repurposed as subfloor in the upstairs bathroom remodels (hint: look up while in the kitchen)
A 1930s kitchen and bathroom that were built in what was originally the home's rear porch
Exposed chimney with a deteriorated brick opening where the original fireplace mantle and hearth were removed to accommodate prior apartment conversions
Enclosed closet where a servants staircase likely rose from the kitchen to the second floor, from there to the attic, and from there a square hatch with access to the rooftop "widows walk", which may have offered views of the surrounding neighborhood and maintenance on the home's brick chimney and cedar shake roof
When Rally Cap Properties first purchased the Edward H. Jones House in summer of 2016, our goal was to downsize the home into a personal residence and home for our small business to operate. A restoration project of this scale, done with quality craftsmanship and historical accuracy, comes with an enormous price tag. Rally Cap Properties has spent months "reading" the history of the home with our architectural historian, meeting with the State Historic Preservation Office to inform our restoration, creating plans with local architects Walker Coen Lorentzen, working through budget and schedule for our rehab, and discussing the project with neighborhood leaders to align the project with the broader goals of the neighborhood.
From the 2017 Sherman Hill Neighborhood Plan (draft dated 5/10/17), the housing objective of the neighborhood is to "preserve the historic character of the neighborhood while improving existing housing stock through rehabilitation, repair, and development in order to maintain the neighborhood as an attractive place to live for a diverse array of people and families." Also a priority of the neighborhood is downsizing subdivided housing stock back into single family residences, of which there are a number of tremendous examples in recent years.
Rally Cap's proposed project will invest over $500k and transform one of the neighborhood's worst properties into one of its best. To financially support this undertaking, we will be utilizing both State and Federal Historic Tax Credits, traditional financing with a community lender, and our private investment funds. In order to utilize the federal funds, the home must be owned for at least 5 years as an income producing property.
Multiple exit strategies and financial pro-formas have been considered to actualize this restoration project. At this time, the market will not support Rally Cap's typical model of foregoing federal tax credits and immediate resale as a single-family home. Our current plan fulfills our fiduciary responsibility to investors, provides three unique, high-quality housing options for a short-term hold period, and allows for the ultimate goal of resale as one of Sherman Hill's finest single-family residences.
Our project will convert 693 19th Street into a high-end single-family residence with two accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The exterior will be restored to its Victorian grandeur, with wraparound front porch, widows walk flat roof, and complimentary carriage house. The primary residence will feature over 3,000 sqft in two stories and a finished attic, with 5 bedrooms and 3 baths, elegantly restored to combine the best of Victorian detailing and modern conveniences. The first accessory dwelling unit is a 1,000 sqft 2-bed, 1-bath garden-level apartment. The second accessory dwelling unit is a 580 sqft lofted studio apartment located above the rear carriage house. All spaces are architect-designed with the priorities of re-using materials, maintaining heritage value, while simultaneously creating a modern, contemporarily designed home.
For at least 5 years, the home will be held as a rental property to fulfill the federal tax credit requirement. The two accessory units will be market-rate rentals, and the primary residence will be rented as a short-term vacation rental (AirBnB) for visitors to Des Moines and families/groups looking to experience the urban living of Sherman Hill. The home has been designed for resale such that one basement wall can be removed to create a 4,000+ sqft, 7-bed 4-bath single-family home with carriage house for studio space or granny flat.
Benefit to Neighbors
Maintaining Historic Integrity – To most, the home in its existing condition would be considered a teardown. Roof leaks, failing foundation walls, termite damage, and years of abuse have left very little historic fabric. However, Rally Cap recognizes the potential and necessity to preserve what's left and rebuild in a manner that is historically sympathetic. After all, we are only custodians of the property for a short period and hope its story will continue for another 130 years.
Financial Benefit – Our investment in 693 19th Street will immediately increase equity for anyone who owns a property in Sherman Hill, as well as put this non-performing vacant property back in the city's tax rolls. Additionally, it will create high-quality housing for Des Moines' growing workforce, and put money back in the neighborhood's pocket for continued revitalization efforts such as the expanding SSMID (self-supporting municipal improvement district).
Publicity – We've all seen the press... Des Moines is the Midwest's fastest-growing city and each year attracts more and more visitors from all over the county. Our goal is to continue the incredible legacy of revitalization in one of Des Moines' best neighborhoods and share the "Sherman Hill experience" with everyone. Guests at the Edward H Jones House will be able to enjoy all the great aspects of our neighborhood for a short stay - urban walkability, breathtaking architecture, incredible history, and some of the best cultural spots Des Moines has to offer.
Versatility – Our single-family design with accessory dwelling units gives optionality to the future of this property. Many large homes in Sherman Hill have been "restored" as duplexes or triplexes, which is another option to carry the debt of a large restoration project. However, we recognize that once a property is converted as such it will most likely never be sold as a single-family home again, because of the market value of multifamily rentals and costs of reconverting the home into single family. Also, because our property is rented to short term guests, vetted by AirBnB's stringent security measures, we will be able to monitor its condition more frequently and protect the property's longterm value.
Design & Rehab
Rally Cap Properties & Walker Coen Lorentzen Architects have partnered to deliver an exceptional historical design, bring the property up to current building code, and address neighborhood priorities of parking, density, and longterm value. Below you can find the proposed site plan, exterior rendering, and proposed carriage house. The carriage house is essential to the historic integrity of the home (see above). Note how it pulls cues in massing and architectural detailing from the primary structure, while maintaining a subsidiary relationship in its original position.
Ryan Francois | firstname.lastname@example.org | cell 515.491.6302