History of the Building

The History of the Green & Main Pilot Project building at 800 19th Street, Des Moines, Iowa

1979 photo of the old H&H Grocery

1979 photo of the old H&H Grocery that occupied this corner building in the Historic Sherman Hill Neighborhood for decades

The northwest corner of 19th and Center Streets in the Historic Sherman Hill District has a history of mixed residential and commercial usage. Formerly known as the H&H Grocery Store, the presence of the two-story brick building contributed to the neighborhood’s designation as the Sherman Hill National Historic District. It is one of a few corner store sites that still exist in this urban neighborhood and the building gives solid evidence of a pedestrian-friendly way of life that existed here early in the 20th century when small-scale mixed-use commercial buildings were located within the residential neighborhood.

The Sherman Hill area has a rich history and is currently recreating itself as a livable community where, once again, business services and residential dwellings co-exist and support one another.

As early as 1880 the building housed tenants while a “lightning rod and pump dealership” also existed at this location. In 1885 the property was purchased by a long-time Des Moines grocer who opened a grocery in the storefront of the dwelling. This address was also the site of the family’s dwelling. The grocery was owned and operated by a number of individuals over the next several decades. By 1936 the city directory indicates the grocery still at this location with three tenants residing on the second floor.

The store was named the H&H Grocery by owner, Eldon Hockmuth, who operated the store from 1946 until 1966, at which time it continued to be operated by a member of his family into the 1970’s. When the building was surveyed as part of the Sherman Hill Historic District National Register Nomination in 1979, Cleo Hudson and “Hockmuth & D. Brown” were listed as owners. Sometime thereafter, the building was abandoned and left to disrepair.

Prior to the recent rebuilding of the current Martin Luther King Junior Parkway, the building sat at an extremely busy corner with traffic flowing in and out of downtown Des Moines to the freeway. Bus lines continue to run past this building, making it highly visible in the neighborhood.

Read about the building’s future »

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