125 Years of Bidwell Riverside Center

Since the beginning, we’ve been committed to assisting our neighbors living in poverty.

 

It all started with a group of Methodist Deaconesses devoted to charitable works in 1893. Since then, our programs have continued to grow and expand, focusing on neighborhood social issues with an emphasis on alleviating the systematic causes of poverty as well as the immediate needs of our neighbors.

From humble beginnings

1889

Conference board of Deaconesses was established in 1889, and $300 was raised after the initial Deaconess Movement meeting.

1892

First Church, Des Moines employed a Deaconess as a parish worker. Miss Julia Howard, a Deaconess from Washington City, came to serve First Church under Dr. Sooy.

1893

The Des Moines Deaconesses Association rented a small home on Center Street that was home to the organization. This was dedicated as a Deaconess Home by Bishop Fowler on January 10, 1893.

The Deaconess Movement was added to the Conference agenda within the Women’s Home Missionary Society

1875 Polk County Map, showing block 14 of south Des Moines.

And early growth

1896

The mission outgrew the house on Center street, and a permanent building was purchased at 1155 W. 9th Street through a bequest of  $2,5001 from Major A.C. Bidwell of First Methodist Church for bible training of young women.  This became known as the Bidwell Deaconess Home, a city home for graduates from other Deaconess Schools.

 (“History of the First UMC of DSM” lists the bequest amount at $2,400. The book “A Parade of Saints” by Idabelle Forker for the 150th anniversary of UMC lists the amount at $75,000.)

And early growth

1900

The 9th Street location was quickly outgrown, and the school expanded to a building which is now where the East Wing of the Iowa Methodist Medical Center stands. With this expansion came the rise of the Iowa Bible Training School, a part of Bidwell Deaconess Home.

Mr. L.M. Mann donated the deed to the north half of lot two in block 14, South Des Moines, to be held for the benefit of the church people in that community.

1904

With the move to spaced owned by the Iowa Methodist Medical Center, the Bible Training School was closely tied to the School of Nursing of Iowa Methodist Hospital. Early this year, the 9th Street property was enlarged by purchasing adjacent land, which allowed the training school to return to the Bidwell property, and officially became known as Iowa Bible Training School, a part of the Bidwell Deaconess Home.

        Now, I just pause to ask as I think of the work which the Woman’s Home Missionary Society is doing and maintaining, and what it will go  on maintaining while we are living and while our children and grandchildren are living, and carrying on in that same building."

 

Bishop Homer C. Stuntz, Dedication for Women's Home Missionary Society building at 921 Pleasant Street

To the birth of the Riverside Mission

1909

1919

The Women's Home Missionary Society purchased a tract of land at 921 Pleasant, where construction on a new building began.

1923

The construction of the new building was complete in February, a beautiful and much larger building.

Bishop Homer C. Stuntz dedicated the new building on May 27, 1923. Bidwell Deaconesses used space in this new building for the social service outreach programs.

The “Riverside” mission began when a group of Deaconesses turned their attention to an area in south Des Moines known as “Boxtown” because many of its Spanish-speaking inhabitants lived in tarpaper covered boxes obtained from downtown department stores. The Deaconesses started  aSunday School in a small rented house on Granger, and moved to a property on SE 14th and Hartford Court. This property, the  north half of lot two in block 14, South Des, had been donated to the church by L.M. Mann, to be used for the benefit of the church people in that community

1925

A new building for the Riverside Mission was constructed to replace the biding that was destroyed in a storm in 1924.

And early growth

1909

1919

The Women's Home Missionary Society purchased a tract of land at 921 Pleasant, where construction on a new building began.

1923

The construction of the new building was complete in February, a beautiful and much larger building.

Bishop Homer C. Stuntz dedicated the new building on May 27, 1923. Bidwell Deaconesses used space in this new building for the social service outreach programs.

The “Riverside” mission began when a group of Deaconesses turned their attention to an area in south Des Moines known as “Boxtown” because many of its Spanish-speaking inhabitants lived in tarpaper covered boxes obtained from downtown department stores. The Deaconesses started  aSunday School in a small rented house on Granger, and moved to a property on SE 14th and Hartford Court. This property, the  north half of lot two in block 14, South Des, had been donated to the church by L.M. Mann, to be used for the benefit of the church people in that community

1925

A new building for the Riverside Mission was constructed to replace the biding that was destroyed in a storm in 1924.

As of 2018, Bidwell Riverside has been in existence for 125 years.

Our services in the Distribution Center and Child Development Center help these families feed and clothe themselves, obtain diapers, other basic toiletries and household goods; and afford childcare and preschool for their children. Our community garden supplies fresh produce to supplement our pantry food.

 The rich history of Bidwell’s service to our community was made possible by countless devoted volunteers, donors, church groups, community leaders and friends like you. It’s difficult to quantify the impact we’ve had throughout more than a century of existence, but your support ensures we continue to work toward our vision of a future where no one lives in poverty and every person has the opportunity for a positive future.

 

Thanks for being a friend to Bidwell, as Bidwell builds hope for our community for decades to come.

1203 Hartford Avenue

Des Moines, Iowa 50315

bidwell@bidwellriverside.org

 

Phone: 515-244-6251

Fax: 515-244-3815

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider.  To view our Nondiscrimination Statement, click here.