In December 2016, I gave a presentation at the Des Moines Public Library (northside). It was hosted by the Des Moines Historical Society of which I am a member. If you were unable to attend this event, you may view it below.
By 1918, the trustees of Highland Park College had amassed a debit of $175,000, in an attempt to keep the college afloat.[i] The only way to stop the hemorrhaging was to sell the school. A deal was brokered with the Baptists after eight months of negotiations.[ii]. Union College, Des Moines College, Central College and Highland Park College would all cease to exist.[iii]
Land was purchased in what is now Chautauqua Park. Designs were proposed by a firm in Chicago to model the new campus after Cambridge College and Oxford University, both in England.[iv]When World War I broke out, building material became scarce.[v] The idea of building an entirely new campus was scrapped. The Highland Park College campus would become the new campus for Des Moines College.
The land in Chautauqua Park sat idle for five years until it was decided to sell the land for profit.[vi] Louisville Real Estate and Development Company would be in charge of the sale. 150 lots would be available for home construction. The auction would start at 10:00 a.m. Under a big tent, a band and a luncheon would be provided for the festivities.[vii] Classes at the newly formed Des Moines College were dismissed so the students could partake in the food and music.[viii]
Middle to upper-middle class homes were constructed between Hickman Road, 16th Street and Chautauqua Parkway.[ix] But not everyone was able to buy into the newly built community. The city of Des Moines continued to practice redlining.[x] A former student, Archie Alexander, after making his fortune[xi], decided to purchase a home at 2200 Chautauqua Parkway, in 1944. This was against the rules and his neighbors attempted to force Archie out through intimidation. Archie wasn’t intimidated and later received a court order allowing him to stay.[xii]