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Terrace Hill, Des Moines

Categories: Government Buildings, Historic Sites, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
4.3/5 based on 30 reviews on the web
Terrace Hill, also known as Hubbell Mansion, Benjamin F. Allen House, and Iowa Governor's Mansion, is the official residence of the Governor of Iowa. Located at 2300 Grand Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa, it is an example of Second Empire architecture. The home measures 18,000 square feet (1,600 m²). It sits on a hill overlooking downtown Des Moines, and has a 90 foot (27 m) tower that offers a commanding view of the city. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003.HistoryTerrace Hill was built by Benjamin Franklin Allen, the first millionaire in Iowa, as a home for his family. The architect for this project was William Boyington, a popular Chicago architect. Construction began in 1866, and was finished in 1869. The total cost of the project was $250,000 for the Mansion, the Carriage House, the original furnishings, and about 30 acres (120,000 m²) of land. The house had very modern features for its time, which included hot and cold running water, indoor restrooms, an elevator, and gas lights.When the house was first built, it was on the western edge of Des Moines. However, the city expanded westward. As a result, Terrace Hill is now nearly in the center of the city.From the time Iowa became a state in 1846 until 1947, no official residence was provided for the Governor aside from Governor William L. Harding (1917–1921). In 1947 Iowa purchased an old colonial style home to serve as the residence for the Governor, but by 1970, a new home was needed to serve the needs of the Governor and the state to host visiting dignitaries. At first the Iowa government considered building a new home to serve as the Governor's residence. The Hubbell family—the owners of Terrace Hill—then offered the home to the state for use as a residence for the Governor and his family. In the fall of 1976, Robert D. Ray became the first Governor to use Terrace Hill as his residence when he moved there with his wife Billie Ray and their three daughters. Governors Terry Branstad (1983–1999, 2011–present), Tom Vilsack (1999–2007), and Chet Culver (2007–2011) have occupied Terrace Hill since then.
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  • It's been a few years since I went, but it's totally worth it. History is cool. I'd see it again. No children 
  • We watched a 15 minute video and then were escorted on a tour. The lady volunteer was informative and enjoyable. She provided a lot of family information, building details, and interesting events and ...  read more »
  • Wonderful tour. The mansion has a very interesting history. All period furnishings. We photos were allowed inside. 
  • Great and funny tour guide, beautiful and well maintained home. Also great intro video before the tour.
  • I live right next to it
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