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George the Chili King: 5722 Hickman (1952)

This location of the century-old business was built in 1952 by George Karaidos, Jr. on land his father purchased in the 1930s. George, Sr. had locations downtown and on the northwest corner of Harding Road (now MLK) & Euclid for over 25 years. The chili recipe was handed down from George, Sr. who was dubbed the original ‘chili king’ about 1919. The house specialties were the Coney Burger and Fat Man Special Tenderloin, pounded on site.

The building has not significantly changed since opening in July of 1952. ‘Car hops’, sometimes on roller skates, took orders from cars that signaled they were ready to order by leaving their headlights on under the canopy and the food was delivered on a metal tray that hooked onto a partially rolled down window. A counter and tables were available inside. Graffiti Nights with a DJ were held for many years as were other special nostalgic events. Bill Bryson wrote about the drive-in and it was also featured on the TV show ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ produced by Guy Fieri. George, Jr. died Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. The restaurant has been closed about 2 years and future plans for the site are unknown.

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I.O.O.F. Hall / Drug Store: 200 Euclid Avenue (1907)

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This landmark commercial building is in the College Corner Commercial District at the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Euclid Avenue and is the tallest building in northern Des Moines. It was constructed in 1907. (The college referred to in College Corner District was first called Highland Park College which averaged about 2,000 students and opened in 1890 on the northeast corner, but was later known as Des Moines University which closed in 1929. For a few years in the 1940s and 1950s it was the School of Lawsonomy.)

The National Register of Historic Places Registration form says “The three story fraternal hall at 200-02 Euclid Ave. is the obvious visual anchor. It would be of impressive scale if placed within the downtown, and is mores (sic) at this location.” It contributes to the district despite painting and changes which reduced the window sizes. 

It is an architect-designed building by the firm of Liebbe, Nourse & Rasmussen. Under the added mansard styled canopy is likely an imposing historical storefront. Very little remains of the original lodge hall and offices due to the conversion for apartment use. Since 1930 several makeovers have been made. The last first floor tenant, A to Z Pawn, moved out a couple of years ago. The apartments, 7 on the 2nd floor and 5 on the 3rd floor have been vacant for quite some time. It has a full attic and basement. The brick was originally colored a medium brown, the original entrance was moved to the corner and painting has obscured some architectural details. 

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George Peak Home: 1080 22nd Street (1900)


The home of Reverend George B. Peak at 1080 22nd St. is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1900, it was donated to Drake University in 1944 by the family and used as student housing. Rev. Peak came to Des Moines from Kentucky in 1888 while working for Equitable Life Assurance and in 1896 he founded the Central Life Assurance Society; now known as AmerUs Group. He was the President until his death in 1923. It sits on a ½-acre lot on the corner of Drake Park Ave. The home is tan brick with brick quoining, 50 X 55, and has a tiled roof. Many elements of the home are of the Georgian Revival and Classical architectural styles. The east façade had a 2-story semi-circular portico with four fluted Ionic columns which were removed over 30 years ago. In addition to the portico, the hipped roof with a flat deck and pedimented dormers are typically Georgian Revival.  On the second story, under the portico, was a balcony and there were five bedrooms upstairs around a central hall. Recently the matching 3-story carriage house was razed. George Peak was very instrumental in building the Insurance Exchange Building and a plaque on the building honors him; he also played a large part in constructing Keosauqua Way.

Salvation Army Building (former Nabisco building): 219 E. Court (1920)


219 E. Court was built in 1920 at a cost of $1,000,000 to house the new factory and distribution office of the National Biscuit Co. (NaBisCo) for central Iowa. It was necessary to vacate an alley to accommodate the size of the building. The large windows for light were common in factory and warehouse buildings of that era. The entire building became the Salvation Army Warehouse and Distribution Center in the early 1960s, after the newer 3-story Salvation Army building to the west at 211 E. Court was built in 1956. In September of 1999 the building was closed due to improper asbestos removal. In 2008 the building had several feet of water in it from flooding and it was used for a short time in 2009 as an Events Center. The Salvation Army requested in early 2021 that the building be razed and replaced with a new structure for their use, but the plan was not approved due to land use issues. March 17th of 2022 the owners requested that the remaining portion of the east-to-west alley be vacated and the request was unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Current plans for the building are unknown.

Butler Apartments (Gaslamp): 1501 Grand Av./510 Fifteenth St. (1906)


Over 115 years old, the four-story Butler Apartment/Gaslamp Building was
constructed in 1906 with 16 apartments and two retail spaces. Of the Renaissance/Georgian style; it is a good example of the early 20th century designed buildings which combined commercial and residential design. The HS Chase Grocery Store and Meat Market was the original tenant of both of the retail sections facing Grand and the 16 apartments used the 15th Street address and entrance. At this time there are 23 apartments. For at least fifty years the commercial bays have been home to music venues such as Blues on Grand and Vicky’s Pour House. Gaslamp, the most recent occupant has announced it will close July 9, 2023. The closing noticed stated the building will be included in further redevelopment in the Gateway District, but Gaslamp was not in that plan. Having passed through several owners in the last few years, a subsidiary of the Kum & Go Corp. bought this building and the Jefferson Apartments in 2015 as plans were being made for their new headquarters just across the street to the east. The Krause Group, now known as Krause+, has already successfully applied for $23M in state tax incentives to redevelop the area in 2025.

The Jefferson Apartments: 1519 Grand Ave. (1915)


Constructed in 1915, the Jefferson Apartment Building was purchased in 2015 by the Krause Group at the same time as the Krause Group bought the Butler Apartments. A building permit for 52 apartments was requested by Harry Herndon Polk in April of 1915. A café opened in the building in September of 1915. In 1938 the Bankers Life Company remodeled the building, making the 52 larger apartments into 72 smaller units. According to a Register article by Kim Norvell of August 2, 2021, it is planned to be rehabbed. At that time the tenants were told their leases would not be renewed so the extent of the repairs needed could be assessed better when the building became vacant. The rents were very affordable and are expected to increase after the building is redone, but the company pledges to keep some of the units affordable. Even though the company would prefer to not to raze the structure, it is still a possibility if the extent of the repairs needed becomes too costly.

Nagle School: 2715 SW Oralabor Road, Ankeny (1900)

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The former Nagle School is in jeopardy. The namesake was the family of Franklin ‘Squire’ Nagel who came to Polk County in June of 1846, before Iowa was a state. He had land in Crocker and Saylor townships and still has descendants in the area. As a township trustee, one of the projects he championed was establishing nine school districts and building schoolhouses. From 1900 to 1952 the building pictured served as a one-room schoolhouse for the Nagle School District. In 1952 the Nagle School District and Ankeny School districts merged and by 1957 the school was converted to a two-bedroom home for the family of Howard Pearson who ran a café in Ankeny. 

From about 1990 to 2019, Warren Transport, a trucking company, used the property as its offices and for trailer storage. In 2019 it was sold to Fairmount Education, a nonprofit Christian educational network operating on the site of the former Adams School near East 29th and Euclid Ave. in Des Moines. Fairmount has no plans for the Nagle school site and has put the property up for sale.  It is in poor condition and has been vandalized and in danger of being razed. 

In the Des Moines metro, it is believed three one-room schoolhouses still remain as homes.  In addition, the Bennett School Museum operates in West Des Moines and the Pleasant Corner School, which is attached to the former Whittier School at East 14th St. and Washington Ave. in Des Moines and is being renovated by the Greenleaf Center.

The property is identified as future neighborhood commercial development in Ankeny’s land use plan. The city has evaluated ways to preserve or even relocate the school, but the cost has been prohibitive. 

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