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A Story That Transcends Time and Arouses Inspiration

If the walls could talk, you would hear the voices of Grammy Award winners, US presidents, famous entertainers, foreign leaders, and athletes. Built more than a century ago, Hotel Fort Des Moines has stood as an icon in the city's heart for decades, serving as a implies grave host prominent guests, including for guests like Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor, and pilot Charles Lindbergh, among others.
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A Des Moines Icon, Woven Into the City's Cultural Fabric

A Des Moines Icon, Woven Into the City's Cultural Fabric

Through the collective efforts of local visionaries, Hotel Fort Des Moines' 11-storied modern hotel was raised up to alter both the skyline and the culture of Des Moines. When the hotel opened in the summer of 1919, it was praised for its exemplification of modern American hotel construction. The hotel's developers used impressive forethought to anticipate how the "flying machines" would affect travel, and strived to create a hotel that would elevate hospitality to new heights.
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A Carefully Curated Time Capsule

The "crown jewel" of downtown Des Moines has a habit of stealing the limelight, no matter what era. During Prohibition, it was one of the foremost proponents of freedom of expression and the speakeasy culture. All at once nostalgic, inviting, and inspiring, it is a hotel of firsts- the first hotel to offer private bathrooms west of the Mississippi, the first hotel in North America to offer a car lift that could raise a car from outside to the second floor, and the first hotel built by the city for the city. Its iconic history and style remains perfectly preserved.

A Historic Landmark and Political Hub

Hotel Fort Des Moines' history is as illustrious as its guests. What began as the most expensive hotel project in Iowa ever in 1918, costing $1.5 million, swiftly turned into an icon rivaling the greatest hotels of the era in Chicago and New York. The Iowa caucuses have brought esteemed politicians and beloved presidents to the hotel for more than a century, from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton. The latter stayed in the Penthouse Suite numerous times and liked gazing out of the window. Step back into some of the hotel's most iconic moments through the years.

  • 1919
    Hotel grand opening, with building design by renowned architectural firm Proudfoot, Bird & Rawson
  • 1922
    Helen Keller stays at the hotel while in town for a week of stage performances at the Orpheum theater, and wishes staff a Happy New Year
  • 1927
    Aviator Charles Lindbergh stays at the hotel and hosts a banquet serving boneless squab, a rare Des Moines delicacy
  • 1933
    Amelia Earhart comes to Des Moines to speak before the Women's Club about her solo flight across the Atlantic
  • 1938
    Air conditioning units were installed in many of the rooms, a first for many hotels in the country
  • 1940
    Katharine Hepburn stays at the hotel during her performance in "The Philadelphia Story" at the Shrine Auditorium
  • 1946
    Hob Nob Restaurant opens to rave reviews from food critics and restaurateurs
  • 1947

    Mae West stays at the hotel during her performance of "Come on Up" at the KRNT Radio Theater

  • 1953
    TV sets are installed in 100 rooms, the largest mass installation of TVs in the state
  • 1959
    Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev stayed in the Presidential Suite during the Cold War
  • 1960
    John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Hubert Humphrey attend dinner at the hotel and host a meeting on farm policy
  • 1971
    President Nixon stays at the hotel, greeting supporters in the lobby while in town for a rural development meeting and address
  • 1974
    President Ronald Reagan attends WHO Radio's 50th anniversary at the hotel
  • 1980
    Elizabeth Taylor stays at the hotel during a Des Moines appearance with her husband US Senator John Warner
  • 1982
    Hotel Fort Des Moines is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • 1994
    Hotel Fort Des Moines' celebrated its 75th anniversary with 500 guests in attendance.
  • 2002
    Skywalk added to the hotel, connecting it to the Iowa Events Center and Wells Fargo Arena
  • 2008

    Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both stay at the hotel while in town during the 2008 caucuses

  • 2021
    Renovations are completed and The Hotel Fort Des Moines re-opens as part of Curio Collection by Hilton.
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A Historic Landmark and Political Hub