Friday, May 3, 2013


Waukee IA (Low 33 Breezy and Chilly with Snow Changing Over to Rain High 37)

With more snow yesterday and overnight (6" total) we decided to stay another day in Waukee. This gives us time to document our visit to Salisbury House.

Salisbury House was built by Carl and Edith Weeks in Des Moines from 1923-1928 at a cost of $3 Million (about $40 Million in today's dollars). Carl made his money as head of Armand Cosmetics inventing and manufacturing one of the first makeup foundations. 

Here is the house from the front.

It is 22,000 sq. ft. with 42 rooms and modeled after the "Kings House" in Salisbury England, hence the name Salisbury House. Carl Weeks was proud of his English ancestry and wanted to honor his heritage with their new family home. We took a self guided tour and learned a couple of neat stories about the house. There are guided tours and special tours that sound really neat that we may do the next time we are in the area.

The neat stories deal with getting authentic materials for the house. They wanted the house to look like it was a lot older than it was so they procured materials from Salisbury, England. There was an old mansion in Salisbury being used as a boy's home that needed a new heating system. In exchange for the heating system for the boy's home, paneling and other furnishings were removed and sent to Des Moines. As they were removing the paneling they found old tudor fireplaces, a mantle of one ended up in the Great Hall.

The most unbelievable thing though was an engraving they found behind the paneling in a corner of a fireplace with "C. Weekes" in chalkstone. Carl Weeks knew his ancestry led back to Salisbury England and we now know that Christopher Weekes was Mayor in the 1500s and we know at one time the spelling of Carl's family was Weekes instead of Weeks but no one is sure if they are related but the coincidence is amazing.

The last neat story deals with the ceiling in the Great Hall.

As Salisbury House was being finished the White Hart Inn in Salisbury was being demolished. As they pulled down the false ceiling they discovered the Tudor beamed ceiling which was built about the same time as the Kings House (the model for Salisbury House) and probably by the same architect. They asked Carl Weeks if he would like the ceiling and he said of course, if it fit. Since the same architect probably did both the dimensions were within an inch so that ceiling from the White Hart Inn is now in Salisbury House. It is believed that William Shakespeare watched his plays under this very ceiling at the White Hart Inn. Here is another view of the ceiling from the balcony overlooking the Great Hall.

A closeup view of the ceiling.

Here are some other photos that we took.

The photos and story do not do justice to this place. Self-guided tours don't visit the Library which houses an incredible art and book collection. We highly recommend this as a place to visit. Also, if you have a hankering to visit England you can tour this home and get a taste of England at a fraction of the cost.

While in Des Moines we found a new favorite place, the Perkup Cafe in Urbandale. On Friday-Sunday they serve some of the best, if not the best we have every had, homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. A great day is eating at the Perkup Cafe and touring the Salisbury House.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo


  1. I cannot imagine living in a place like that. Just incredible that people have that amount of money.

  2. this is so cool, the pics are great and so is the history