The many histories of the Hatton House
Ernest Pickering wrote in The Homes of America, "A history of American homes is necessarily a history of American life ..." That phrase is the basis of my story, that the history of Des Moines architecture and the lives of those inhabiting are tied together. The historian cannot effectively tell the history of a building without reflecting on the social and personal histories of the people who built (the carpenters and artisans), the people who lived and/or worked in the building, and the history of the cultural landscape. What was happening in the world affects this history as well: for example, some houses were divided into apartments during the depression and further deteriorated during the decline of the urban and boom of the suburbs between the 1940's and 1980's. "Urban Revitalization" efforts, which often mean mega-stores and parking lots, still threaten to change the landscape and environment of these neighborhoods. The history of the Hatton House is a memoir of the process of historic preservation, of living in the midst of a worksite, and of the historical research involved in taking on such a project.