Historic Valley Junction Officially Becomes Historic

Oct 18, 2017

The West Des Moines shopping district known as Valley Junction is officially joining the National Register of Historic Places. The designation makes buildings in the neighborhood eligible for various preservation tax credits.

Valley Junction at night
Credit Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Fifty-two properties along a three-block stretch of Fifth Street in West Des Moines, plus some crossing streets, are included in the recognition from the National Park Service. It’s an area that developed during the railroad boom years of the 1890s. The executive director of the Historic Valley Junction Foundation, Jim Miller, says many people probably assumed the district was already on the register.

“Our joke this week, but quite honestly we’re serious, is now the historic is with a capital H, we’re legal or we’re official now,” he says.

Miller says the designation means property owners can apply for federal preservation tax credits.

“It also, just to clarify, does not prevent anyone from doing anything to their building, or quite honestly they could still tear down a building, but once they pursue federal funding there are strings attached,” he says.

A street party in Valley Junction
Credit Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Miller says Valley Junction is competing with 25 other proposals for a 150-thousand dollar federal grant to restore the marquee and façade of one of its signature buildings, the Theatrical Shop.