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Preserving History: Exploring the Jordan House in West Des Moines, IA

Nestled within the charming city of West Des Moines, Iowa, stands a historic landmark that offers a glimpse into the region’s rich heritage and cultural significance. The Jordan House, a stately mansion built in the mid-19th century, serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of its original inhabitants and the stories they left behind. Let’s embark on an exploration of the Jordan House and uncover the fascinating history that unfolds within its walls. Learn information about West Des Moines, IA.

A Legacy of the Underground Railroad:

Built in 1850 by James C. Jordan, a prominent figure in the local community, the Jordan House holds a special place in Iowa’s history as a station on the Underground Railroad. As a stop on the clandestine network of safe houses that aided escaped slaves on their journey to freedom, the house played a pivotal role in the abolitionist movement of the 19th century. Today, the Jordan House stands as a symbol of courage, resilience, and the fight for justice and equality. Discover facts about Exploring Nature’s Haven: Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines, IA.

Historic Architecture:

The Jordan House is a masterpiece of Greek Revival architecture, characterized by its grand columns, symmetrical façade, and elegant proportions. Designed by renowned architect Francis Marion Ellis, the mansion boasts a commanding presence that reflects the wealth and status of its original inhabitants. Visitors to the Jordan House can admire its historic architecture and ornate interior, which have been meticulously preserved to transport guests back in time to the Victorian era.

Interactive Exhibits:

Inside the Jordan House, visitors can explore a variety of interactive exhibits and displays that bring the history of the house and its occupants to life. From period furnishings and artifacts to multimedia presentations and archival photographs, each exhibit offers insights into the daily lives, struggles, and triumphs of the Jordan family and their role in shaping the community. Guided tours led by knowledgeable docents provide additional context and interpretation, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Iowa’s past.

Community Engagement:

The Jordan House serves as more than just a historic landmark; it is a hub for community engagement, education, and cultural enrichment. Through a variety of programs, events, and outreach initiatives, the house fosters connections between past and present, inviting residents and visitors alike to explore the stories that define Iowa’s heritage. From lectures and workshops to living history demonstrations and special events, there are opportunities for people of all ages to engage with the history and legacy of the Jordan House.

Preservation Efforts:

Preserving the historic integrity of the Jordan House is a top priority for the West Des Moines Historical Society, which acquired the property in the 1980s. Through meticulous restoration efforts and ongoing maintenance, the society ensures that the house retains its original character and charm for future generations to enjoy. Additionally, the society collaborates with preservation organizations, government agencies, and community partners to advocate for the protection of historic sites and landmarks throughout the region.

Educational Outreach:

In addition to its role as a museum and historic site, the Jordan House serves as a valuable educational resource for schools, universities, and community groups. Educational programs and curriculum materials are available to teachers and educators, offering opportunities for students to learn about local history, social justice, and the Underground Railroad. By fostering a deeper understanding of the past, the Jordan House inspires future generations to become stewards of history and champions for positive change in their communities.


The Jordan House stands as a beacon of history, heritage, and hope in the heart of West Des Moines, Iowa. Through its rich architectural legacy, historic significance, and commitment to education and preservation, the house invites visitors to explore the stories that have shaped the region and the people who have called it home. As guests journey through its halls and gardens, they are transported to a bygone era where the struggle for freedom and justice continues to resonate with relevance and meaning.

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Des Moines

Rapid City

Soiux Falls