Jun 7, 2013


I live in Beaverdale, an old school suburb nestled in the northwest corner of Des Moines.  Born in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, it's made of tidy 1.5 story homes, stacked by red bricks kilned in a mason factory a few blocks behind my house. Century hard oaks soften the sun, a grassy median divides the main boulevard and pink peonies sweeten up the spring.

The original plan was to stay put for 5 years, pop out Pigtails, then sell and move out to a newer home to expand the family.  That was 15 years ago.  We're still here.

The hotspot 'burbs today for many young families are West Des Moines, Ankeny, Johnston, Urbandale and Clive (map). People prefer new construction and public schools of these outlying towns.

Early on, I thought we were missing out by not following the migration.  Then, through a split and weave of events, Beaverdale became home.  I still want to some day leave the city and set up camp on an acreage in the country.  For now, the convenience of school and work close by keeps us planted.

It wasn't until I left the Baptist church, joined the Catholic, enrolled Pigtails at the church's school and met other parents that the gears meshed and this place finally clicked.  Many of the local businesses are owned by families from church, several of the dads my age went to the same school as their kids, with the same teachers that are still cranking away.  The dads enjoyed their childhood well enough that they returned after college to build family and business here.

At church on Sunday, we see multi-generational families sharing a pew, who live within blocks of each other, attending the same school they grew up in with their teachers sitting a few rows back.

That's a rare thing today.  Often, the goal when we're young is to move as far away from home as possible after college.

This 'hood is a small town within a city of a half million.  It's difficult to put a price on that, we cherish it.

It's possible my daughter could fly off to college for her ed' degree, return as a teacher to the school she's at now, and raise her family close by.  I've seen this scenario play out several times here.

There's an old strip mall built before strip malls were invented.  Back Country is where I picked up much of my camping gear for the Big Horns hike.

Tally's restaurant next door bakes up a mean bacon-wrapped meatloaf.  Ace Hardware across the street serves screws and caulk for my house fix 'em ups.  Catty-corner is Beaverdale Confections, you'll meet them in my next post.  Fresh roasted coffee is 12 strides away, around the bend a block down is my daughter's school.  Hang a right to the tiny post office where I'll soon ship B&P Bento Boxes.  

Nearly every house flies the color each Christmas, the night run was a loop of Beaverdale:

We saw my daughter's friends from school playing outside today as we photoed.

Construction material and quality matters more than size.

We're regulars at Snookies Malt Shop, there's Saints pub with glass doors that roll open when the sky's blue,   Tuesday evening Farmers' Market in the summer and the Beaverdale Fall Festival.

If you're ever travelling through Des Moines, stop by Beaverdale and grab a bite.



  1. Anonymous6/07/2013

    You can't put a price on historical neighborhoods like these! I love it!!

  2. Anonymous6/07/2013

    Looks incredible! What a gem you found to raise Pigtails. You will continue to be happy with that decision, I think.

  3. Beautiful area. The homes in the first few pictures remind me of a neighborhood in Omaha where my uncle used to live. Glad you decided to stay there to raise Pigtails; I love generational Catholic families! Of course I would say that, because my son is 3rd generation at our town's Catholic school! :)

    1. Third gen', that's great!

  4. Beautiful neighbourhood Beard. There's something to be said for living in an place that make you feel joy.

    Our family is packing in the city life this summer when the Mister retires from the Canadian Army and moving to an island on Lake Ontario, pop: 450 people, 6500 sheep! We can't wait to start our new chapter.

    Our youngest will be attending a two room school house with 28 other students ranging from Kindergarten to grade 8. We're looking forward to the peacefulness the island has to offer, the one on one attention our 6 year old will receive in school and a multi-generational community that is there for one another.

  5. Anonymous6/07/2013

    well then, what more could you want.

  6. What a lovely town! Beautiful.

  7. Sounds idyllic. That is the kind of place I want to live if i ever have a family!

  8. Beautiful!

  9. Very nice job describing one of Des Moines' nicest neighborhoods. Beaverdale is definately a gem! On a minor point of contention, I'm not sure why you would characterize the building that Back Country is in as a "strip mall". Instead, it a very traditional commercial building with first level retail and a second floor (which appears to offer living space). Strip centers/malls are instead, a single building broken up into many stalls(or bays) with a single commercial use. They are often knocked for being bland and monotonous and only serving a single purpose (ie...commercial) as opposed to how we used to build commercial building as "mixed use".....exactly the type of building Back Country is housed in. Sorry to ramble on about this, but I'm a big fan of traditional commercial mixed use spaces (like this example) so wanted to get on my busy body soap box a bit. I'll step off now. ;)

    1. Right on, you describe that multi strip better than I did. Check out the same spot 30 years ago, it will be alive for decades: http://historicalphotos.beaverdale.org/view_1-mp13sm.html

    2. Cool pic. Thx.


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