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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Fitch, F.W., Company Historic District
Reference Number 13000147
State Iowa
County Polk
Town Des Moines
Street Address 300-306 15th Street: 1510-1526 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 04/09/2013
Areas of Significance INDUSTRY
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Begun in 1917 and expanded piecemeal from the 1920s through the early 1940s, the F. W. Fitch Historic District is significant, locally under National Register Criterion A, because it calls attention to an important industry in Des Moines during that time. From 1917 to 1949, the F. W. Fitch Company manufactured personal care products known for their innovation and marketed throughout the United States, Canada, and overseas with total sales exceeding $11 million in 1945. Aggressive advertising-including Fitch's Bandwagon, a weekly radio program broadcast by NBC across the nation-propelled the company's growth, further spurred by big contracts with the U.S. Army during World War II. The historic district's period of significance, under Criterion A, is 1917-1949, the time when the F. W. Fitch Company occupied the property. Significant dates include the year 1917, when the firm opened the first building in the historic district, and 1949, when the firm ceased operations. The property contains four resources for this nomination: the Main Building, Soap Plant, Soap Plant Annex, and Tunnel. All of these resources are classified as buildings, except the tunnel, which is classified as a structure. All of these resources are evaluated as contributing.


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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria