The Mission of The Thoreau Center

The Thoreau Center is a historical, community events center located in Des Moines’ historic Drake neighborhood. You may rent the first floor of the Thoreau Center for your important events. To reserve a date for your event, contact the Thoreau Center at 515-279-7312 or info@thethoreaucenter.com.

In 1979, Harold J. Wells named The Thoreau Center in honor of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). In his many books and essays, Thoreau emphasized a back-to-nature, self-sufficient lifestyle, encouraging civil disobedience of unjust laws, antislavery, and being true to your own inner principles. Here at the Thoreau Center, we are custodians of those ideals.

Harold’s vision for the center was to encourage people to grow together in becoming a caring and sharing community where they could enjoy and share individual arts and talents with others, join grassroots efforts in our democratic government, self-recover from their addictions, and appreciate more fully the wonders of our natural world.

Harold conveyed the Center to the Thoreau Center, LLC that is owned by Scott Hartsook and Dennis Groenenboom in June of 2013. The two have been local community advocates for justice and equal rights, and have been residents of the Thoreau Center neighborhood since 1983. They see this endeavor as a wonderful opportunity to continue Well’s efforts and foster this community that has meant so much to them. Please join us as custodians of the democratic, community minded, human family at the Thoreau Center.


thoreau1“Be true to your work, your word and your friend.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

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