To preserve, interpret and share the international significance of Salisbury House and its collections as a historic house museum for the educational and cultural benefit and enjoyment of the public.
Salisbury House & Gardens will become a prominent local, regional and national historic attraction through its outstanding architecture, authentic collections, inspiring landscape and commitment to stimulating programming experiences for all audiences.
Each year, Salisbury House & Gardens welcomes thousands of visitors for a wide array of cultural, educational and social events.
A 42-room architectural wonder built between 1923 and 1928 by pioneer cosmetics magnate, Carl Weeks and his wife Edith modeled the House after King’s House in Salisbury England. They moved into the House with their four sons in December of 1926.
During the Depression years, new property tax laws compelled Weeks to deed the house to Drake University in 1934. The arrangement allowed the family to live in the house, providing they opened the house to students studying the fine arts. In 1954, Drake University sold the property to the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA). Mrs. Weeks died in 1955 followed by her husband in 1962. The ISEA occupied the house until 1999 when the newly formed Salisbury House Foundation purchased it and its collections for $4 million.
The Foundation’s stated mission for the House: To preserve, interpret, and share the international significance of Salisbury House & Gardens and its collections as a historic house museum for the educational and cultural benefit and enjoyment of the public. Today, great progress has made based on a master plan for extensive renovation and repair of the House. The House’s staff, Board of Directors and many supporters work toward the completion of the restoration of the House, while offering a broad range of programming and events that demonstrate the goals of the Mission!
Carl Weeks was a remarkable man of great accomplishments, both as a visionary 1920s entrepreneur and as a lifelong supporter of the arts he loved. His majestic home, Salisbury House & Gardens, is a testament to those accomplishments.
As a pioneer in the women’s cosmetic industry, he built a fortune on the success of his company, Armand Cosmetics. Then he built Salisbury House. This American Country House Estate, nestled on 9.5 acres virgin Iowa woodlands, remains an icon of entrepreneurialism, innovation and the American Spirit.
Carl Weeks once wrote, “If you dream it, you can build it” and he and his wife Edith set out to do just that. It was on a 1921 visit to Salisbury, England that they saw “Kings House,” a 15th century manor house frequented by British royalty. They knew immediately they had found the model for their Des Moines home. Groundbreaking took place in 1923 and five years would pass before construction was complete. This American castle was the home for the Weeks family—Carl, Edith and their four sons—until 1954. In 1954, Salisbury House was purchased by the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), and served as their headquarters until 1998, when it was purchased by the Salisbury House Foundation. Restoration of the house was begun in earnest in 2005, following completion of a Master Plan, now well on its way to completion. Thousands have passed through the House’s great arched doors and come away awed by what they experienced. Today, Salisbury House & Gardens and its treasures are offered to all as a museum, a cultural and educational resource and a center for professional and social events.
1876 Carl Weeks born in rural Linn County Iowa, to Charles and Laura Chamberlain Weeks
1889 At age 13, Carl Weeks ended his formal education and moved to Des Moines to work in a drug store. The next year, he enrolled at Highland Park College to study pharmacy, graduating in 1892.
1902 Carl Weeks and his brother Leo joined the D.Weeks drug company, founded by his mother’s family, the Chamberlains, and Carl’s brother Deyet. The company manufactured over-the-counter medications and face powder.
1907 Carl Weeks married Edith Van Slyke, whom he had courted for four years. They would have four sons: Charles, William, Evert and Lafayette.
1908 When Deyet Weeks died, Carl and Leo took over the company and founded the D.C. Leo Company, through which Carl made many innovations, among them a new product by the addition of cold cream to face powder.
1916 The Armand Company was formed by Carl Weeks. The product line was developed to include additional products and became extremely successful, marketed across the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia, France and England.
1923 With the fortune made by his success, Carl weeks ordered construction of Salisbury House, to be closely modeled after King’s House in Salisbury, England. The House was completed in 1928.
1934 Weeks family donated Salisbury House to Drake University, but occupied the house until 1953.
1950 Following World War II, competition from Revlon and other cosmetics companies resulted in a decline in growth for Armand. Carl Weeks merged the company with Weeks & Leo Company and retired at age 77.
1954 When the demands of maintenance become difficult for the Weeks, the House is sold to the Iowa State Education Association, and is occupied by ISEA as their headquarters for 45 years.
1962 Carl Weeks died at age 85, following Edith Weeks death in 1955.
1998 In 1998, the estate was purchased by the newly formed Salisbury House Foundation which took possession in 1999. The ISEA moved to their new location in downtown Des Moines in that same year.
2005 Restoration in earnest of Salisbury House began, implementing a Master Plan developed by the Salisbury House Foundation and local architects.