Hawkeye Insurance Company Building
The Hawkeye Insurance Company was the first successful casualty insurance company in Des Moines. Founded in 1865, it was housed in this building from its original construction in 1869 until the early 1900s. Local architect William Foster designed it as well as many other buildings in the city, including the Youngerman Building across the street, and throughout Iowa. The Hawkeye Insurance building is a fine example of Italianate architecture. It features an elaborate bracketed cornice, tall and thin hooded windows, and decorative terra cotta and brickwork.
The Hawkeye Insurance Company was a leading fire insurance company in Des Moines from 1869 to 1913. The building is an excellent example of Italianate architecture.
Backstory and Context
The Hawkeye Insurance Company was founded in 1865 by a lawyer named Ebenzezer Jared Ingersoll. It provided fire insurance to clients in the city (another company called the State Insurance Company was established in 1865 as well). Eventually, Des Moines became one of the the largest centers for fire insurance in the country. Hawkeye Insurance was successful thanks to proper management practices. Early on, it claimed to have represented $35 million in capital. In 1888, it had $250,000 in assets.
It appears that the original part of the building was a pre-existing one-story law office. Hawkeye Insurance remodeled this building completely in 1869 and then in the coming years erected the rest of the present structure in stages. The company vacated the building in 1913 when it was bought by outside interests. That same year it was converted into a hotel called the Hawkeye Hotel. The name was changed to the Roxie Hotel by 1957. In the 1960s the building was converted into apartments and in the 1980s it was converted back into offices. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Jacobsen, James E. "Hawkeye Insurance Company Building." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/86000874_text.
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