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The past year has been a year of growth for the Des Moines Rehabbers Club, and we look back with pride at the group’s accomplishments! In addition to continuing the regular meetings (free and open to the public as always), the DSMRC hosted numerous renovation-related events, revived the Most Endangered Buildings list, started offering paid memberships, and collaborated with other organizations to promote renovation and preservation throughout the city.
The Des Moines Rehabbers Club is a registered tax-exempt non-profit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors. The Board meets monthly to plan events, recap past work, and guide the growth of the organization. Names and contact information for the Board of Directors are listed at the end of this newsletter. In 2015, we started accepting individual memberships as a way to support ongoing and future activities. All membership dues go towards group activities and organizational support: website hosting, event space and refreshments, P.O. box, collaborative events with other organizations, tee shirts, and other expenses. We extend a huge THANK YOU to the first 50 members that joined this year! For the time being, new memberships come with a locally printed Des Moines Rehabbers Club tee shirt. This coming year we will be expanding the Board to take on new and exciting ventures that promote sensitive rehabilitation of older buildings, support people who own and live in older homes, and educate the public about historic preservation.
The monthly meetings are always free and open to the public. At these meetings, we look to inspire, educate, and connect people with a common interest in renovation. In 2015, some of the best-attended meetings were “works-in-progress” tours, where attendees had the opportunity to look at renovation projects under construction. Other meetings included planning for a kitchen remodel project and a moderated discussion on building salvage.
Special Events and Activities
In October 2015, the Des Moines Rehabbers Club resurrected the “Most Endangered Buildings List”. The list is intended to spark public conversation about the buildings that matter to us and connect owners of endangered buildings to resources for rehabilitation. The 2015 list includes a range of buildings from an abandoned Victorian home in the River Bend neighborhood to the Gas Lamp building which is potentially in the path of a downtown redevelopment project. Check out the whole “Most Endangered” list at http://renovatedsm.org/2015-most-endangered-buildings-in-des-moines.
In August, the Des Moines Rehabbers Club hosted a lecture and conversation on the relationship between historic preservation and community development, with guest speaker Michael Allen. Michael Allen (left) discusses historic preservation, advocacy, and community development
On December 1, the Des Moines Rehabbers Club hosted the first (of many) Happy Hour at Confluence. An informal gathering with appetizers and locally brewed beer, 15 or so attendees gathered to talk about renovation, Des Moines redevelopment, and historic preservation. Look for future fun-time events throughout the coming year.
All of this work is made more effective when we speak together to advocate for historic preservation and renovation at a policy level. In 2015 the Des Moines Rehabbers Club stepped forward as a voice for responsible stewardship of our city’s built environment (and the people who love our older buildings). Volunteers from the Des Moines Rehabbers Club staffed the City Council Forum organized by Northeast Neighbors. This event was a great chance to hear about current issues facing our city (and spread the word about the Des Moines Rehabbers Club – note all the people in DSMRC tee shirts! Nearly all of the candidates mentioned “rehabbing,” “fixing up single family homes,” and “preserving our history” in their comments and our organization helped get that issue on the table. The DSMRC also sent out a candidate questionnaire to all local candidates in the City Council election. Half responded, and their comments suggest that they are sensitive to the issues we care about.
In 2015, the Des Moines Rehabbers Club continued to build connections with other organizations. We co-hosted events with our friends at the Des Moines Historical Society and Northeast Neighbors, and spoke at several neighborhood meetings. The DSMRC committed to work with the State Historical Society of Iowa to bring a national historic preservation conference to Des Moines.