Rental Information

Holding an Event at The Thoreau Center

The Thoreau Center offers an air of warmth and a distinctive quality to your event.  Built in 1926, the multi-room venue is appropriate for seated event for 75 or fewer guests, as well as for larger, reception-type celebrations for up to 130 guests.

Well-maintained and located south-west of Drake University in Des Moines, the Thoreau Center has 1950 square feet of space to accommodate your event.

In the heart of a historical residential district, the Thoreau Center is unique among Des Moines rental facilities –

    • Parking is nearby and free;
    • You may bring in your own food, or use the caterer of your choice;
    • You may serve your own beer and wine;
    • We provide and set up tables and chairs to your liking;

By holding your event at the Thoreau Center, you and your guests can get away and think, relax, and celebrate.

Basic Rental Fees:

    • Most events on Sundays – $350
    • Most events Mondays through Thursdays – $300.
    • Most events on Fridays, Saturdays, holidays and holiday weekends – $495.
    • Weddings, wedding receptions or other events related to the wedding – $950.
    • Daytime business meetings on Mondays through Thursdays – $225 for the first three hours, plus $35 per hour for additional hours or a portion of an hour, with a maximum rental fee of $300 per day.

The above rates are for the day of the event. If you want to set up the day before or clean up the day after your event, and the times are available, additional fees will be charged.

Contact us about rates for recurring events such as classes, monthly meetings, etc.

General Rental Information

To rent the first floor of the Thoreau Center, contact the Thoreau Center at 515-279-7312 or  A short Rental Agreement, one-half of the rental fee and a refundable damage/security deposit is required to reserve your event more than 120 days in advance. The other half of the rental fee is due 30 days prior to the event. If you want to reserve a date that is less than 120 days away, then the entire rental fee and damage/security deposit is required to reserve the date. The rental fee will be refunded to you if the event is cancelled at least thirty days before the event.

Your actual event, not including reasonable set-up and clean-up times, cannot last more than six hours and must be over by 10:00 p.m., with cleanup done by 11:00 p.m.

The Thoreau Center will accommodate up to 130 people for reception-type events. If you want everybody to be seated for a meal at the same time, the Center will accommodate 75 people.

U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne holding a 2018 campaign event at The Thoreau Center.

Damage/Security Deposit

A damage/security deposit of $300 is required to be paid at the time you reserve your event. The damage/security deposit for weddings, wedding receptions and other events on the day of the wedding is $700. The deposit will be refunded within thirty days after your event with the following exceptions:

– Your entire deposit will not be refunded if you cancel your event 45 days or less before the date of your event.

–  One-half of the deposit will not be refunded if you cancel your event more than 45 days before the date of your event.

–  Your deposit will not be refunded if the event lasts longer than the reserved ending time of your event, or if you do not follow the Thoreau Center rules, including rules regarding noise, smoking and the use and serving of alcohol.

– Your deposit will be used to pay for any damages to or theft from the Thoreau Center during your rental period.

– Your deposit will be used to pay for cleaning services if you fail to return the Thoreau Center to its condition prior to your event. Cleaning services will be billed at $40 per person per hour.