Des Moines University (1865–1929)

Des Moines University was an American college in Des Moines, Iowa, that operated from 1865 until 1929. It was established by members of the Baptist Church.[1] It was originally located in an abandoned Lutheran college building at 15th and Pleasant near downtown Des Moines. It moved to College and 9th Avenues in 1884.[2] In 1889, the school was renamed Des Moines College to better reflect its mission.

Des Moines University
Former names
Des Moines University (1865–1889)
Des Moines College (1889–1918)
TypeNot-for-profit private university
Location, ,

In 1892 the Des Moines College was affiliated with the University of Chicago. The college offered bachelor degrees in arts, science, and philosophy. By 1902 its enrollment was 320, including students in the musical and preparatory departments. The library contained about 5000 volumes. Owing to large gifts made by friends of the institution, it entered in 1902 upon a course of rapid expansion.[1]

In 1918 the Des Moines College merged with Central College and Highland Park College to become Des Moines University, moving to Highland Park's campus at 2nd Avenue and Euclid Avenue. The merged college re-adopted the Des Moines University name at that time.[3] The 9th and College campus became the campus for Dowling High School (which is now located west of Buffalo and 73rd Streets in western Des Moines);[4] the former campus area at 9th and College streets now hosts a correctional facility for Polk County and the John R Grubb Community YMCA building.[5][6]

The pharmacy school separated from the school in 1927, reconstituting itself as the Des Moines College of Pharmacy Corporation. Its staff and facilities later became part of Drake University.

Des Moines University closed in 1929, blaming court-ordered actions arising from previous student riots at the school.[2]

The campus at 2nd and Euclid streets was purchased in 1943 for Alfred Lawson's University of Lawsonomy. It is now occupied by Park Fair Mall.[7]


  1. ^ a b This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Des Moines College" . New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
  2. ^ a b Associated Press (2 September 1929). BAPTISTS WILL CLOSE DES MOINES SCHOOL; Fundamentalist Board Blames Court Writ Growing Out of Student Riot for Action. The New York Times
  3. ^ Lost Colleges/Des Moines College (accessed 18 November 2016)
  4. ^ Dowling Catholic High School (Google Maps, accessed 20 November 2020)
  5. ^ Des Moines College via Drake University
  6. ^ Polk County Correctional Facility (Google Maps, accessed 20 November 2020)
  7. ^ Fair Park Mall (Google Maps, accessed 20 November 2020)