Tour The Wallace House
Welcome to the Wallace House location of The Wallace Centers of Iowa. Henry and Nancy C. Wallace moved to Des Moines in 1892 with their daughter Josephine when Henry became editor of the Iowa Homestead. They selected this home at the corner of 16th & Center Street, one of the oldest properties in the Sherman Hill neighborhood. The Italianate Victorian-style house was built in 1883. The Classical style wrap-around porch features Ionic Roman columns. The stacked bay windows and a second story balcony are typical of the style.
Around 1895, the Wallaces altered the third floor for more space, adding two bedrooms, a hybrid mansard/hip roof and dormer windows, possibly for some live-in help. After Nancy’s death in 1909 and Henry’s death in 1916, daughter Josephine continued to live in the house until 1923. The house remained in the Wallace family until 1940. By the 1950s, the house was portioned into 11 apartments. The house was last inhabited in the early 1970s.
An Extensive Restoration
The former Wallace House Foundation was incorporated in 1988 to purchase and restore the home. The interior was gutted and period photos taken by Josephine guided the restoration work. Historic preservation architect William Wagner developed plans to restore the house to its original floor plan with slight compromises for contemporary use as a museum, office space and meeting facility. The Wallace family donated pieces of period furniture and historic mementos. Original to the house are the two portraits of Uncle Henry and Nancy in the library.
The Millennium Tree
In 2000, the White House Council designated the 100-year-old oak tree on the north side of the Wallace House as Iowa’s Millennium Tree. Only one tree per state is selected for this honor.
The Garden The garden was redesigned in 2008 with a new fence, walking path, perennials, benches, and a brass plaque from the Wallace Publishing Company. We encourage visitors to look at the beautiful plants in all different seasons and spend time relaxing in the garden. The garden was rededicated to Ann Fleming, great-granddaughter of Uncle Henry Wallace and former caretaker of the gardens.
Hours: The house is open from 9 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday or by appointment. The garden can be visited at any time. A free-will donation is accepted for self-guided tours. Guided tours for large groups are $2 per person and last about 45 minutes. Accessible parking and entrance arrangements are available with notice. Please call 515-243-7063 to make an appointment for your group.