Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion

des moinesDo you appreciate architecture; enjoy visiting beautiful houses and majestic buildings? Do you love to learn about the local history of your area? Well you can do all that right here in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa State Capitol is one of the most beautiful in the country. Founded circa 1843, Des Moines has buildings from several architectural periods. A work of architecture you will not want to miss is the Des Moines, Iowa Governor’s Mansion, Terrace Hill.

What: Terrace Hill

Where: 2300 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312

When: Guided tours are given Tuesday through Saturday at 10:30AM, 11:30AM, 12:30PM, and 1:30PM. Walk-ins are welcome. Reservations are required for groups over 10 people.

Cost: Adults $5; Children (6 to 12) $2; Students with school groups are free.


Terrace Hill is known by several names including the Hubbell Mansion, the Benjamin F. Allen House, and the Iowa Governor’s Mansion. It is the official residence of the Governor of Iowa and is an example of Second Empire architecture. Commissioned by Iowa’s first millionaire, Benjamin Franklin Allen, Willian Boyington, a well-known architect from Chicago began construction in 1866. Completed in 1869, the 18,000 square foot building was constructed on a hilltop that overlooks downtown Des Moines. The house features a 90 foot tower offering a panoramic view of the city. The total cost of the project including 30 acres of land, the Mansion, Carriage House, and original furnishings was $250,000. The house boasted very modern features for its time: hot and cold running water, indoor restrooms, an elevator, and gas lights. Although originally built on the western edge of Des Moines, as the city expanded westward Terrace Hill became a focal point right in the center of the city. Permanent and alternating exhibits are available for viewing including a permanent display from the previous owners of the house, the Hubbell family. The house became a National Historic Landmark in 2003.

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