Hoyt Sherman Place announces $500,000 lawn enhancement project, $100,000 toward other programs

Patsy Shors tells her story during the Des Moines Storytellers Project's "Generosity" show at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.

After 100 years of entertainment on its historic stage, Hoyt Sherman Place will soon introduce a new place for performers and audiences while continuing to support programming for diverse audiences.

On Tuesday, Hoyt Sherman Place announced a $500,000 lawn enhancement project will move forward this summer to create a new outdoor plaza/stage on the southern edge of the venue's lawn, parallel to Woodland Avenue. The City of Des Moines and the state's historic preservation commission approved the addition.

The following day, another announcement reported that Hoyt Sherman Place received $100,000 to continue to support three of its ongoing programs.

The new circular stage area will have a staircase connecting the addition to the sidewalk and use a brick aesthetic to match the look of the Hoyt Sherman Place exterior, according to a news release. The development also reportedly adds a complete accessible route from the parking lot on the east side of the lawn to the west.

The new stage is planned to host outdoor music and other community events — such as the annual Halloween on the Hill or Jazz in July — with better accommodations.

Hoyt Sherman Place, 1501 Woodland Ave., and its lawn as seen from above.

More:Hoyt Sherman Place at 100: How programming has blossomed from blank marquee to 100 events

Additional trees, including five Osage orange trees, will be planted as part of this project. The orange trees serve as a nod to President Abraham Lincoln's gravesite since Hoyt Sherman was named Army Paymaster at the start of the Civil War and had an older brother — Union Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman — who served during Lincoln's presidency.

All of these additions come after shade sails and were installed this past summer to provide better accommodations for outdoor music events. To make room for these latest renovations, those shade sails will be removed and donated to the Oakridge Community to be used to shade playground equipment.

Hoyt Sherman Place has also made recent renovations and restorations to its interior. In 2020, $4.9 million in donations funded improvements, largely focused on the backstage spaces. Later that year, renovations began on the Hoyt Sherman Mansion to restore Hoyt and Sara Sherman's bedroom suite.

A gift from Kemin Industries, a Des Moines-based manufacturer, helped this addition get underway, but Hoyt Sherman officials are seeking other funding opportunities.

On Wednesday, Hoyt Sherman Place announced that $100,000 from Principal Foundation, a Des Moines-based insurance company, will go toward Jazz in July, Project S.T.A.G.E. and Total Access.

The three programs are designed to improve access to Hoyt Sherman Place's programming in different ways. Jazz in July is an example of annual free programming, Project S.T.A.G.E. is a festival that empowers students to give and witness performances on the Hoyt Sherman Stage and Total Access is a program that aims to provide access to shows for underserved audiences by working with the likes of the Oakridge Neighborhood or Silver Oaks Senior Living.

More information about Hoyt Sherman Place and the venue's ongoing 100th anniversary season can be found at hoytsherman.org.

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Des Moines Register. Reach him at ihamlet@gannett.com or 319-600-2124, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: $500,000 lawn enhancement project to move forward at Hoyt Sherman Place