2nd December 1876 - Birthday of Carl Weeks, builder of 'the Salisbury House', des Moines, Iowa

Salisbury House, des Moines - inspired by Salisbury Museum salisbury museum - inspiration for kings house, des moines, iowa
On the 2nd December 1876, in rural Linn County, Iowa, Laura Chamberlain Weeks gave birth to her son, Carl Weeks[1]. Week's father had been a 'veterinarian and hog breeder'. While Carl was still a baby they moved to Kansas. The Weeks family opened a general store, but continued to raise cattle[2]. The Weeks later moved to Des Moines, Iowa. Carl Weeks went into his mother's family business - Chamberlain Medicine Company, seller of lotions and patent (non-prescription) medicines. Carl studied pharmacy at Des Moines/Highland Park Pharmacy School, qualifying as a pharmacist in 1893. By 1903, Carl's brothers had founded a pharmacy company and Carl moved back to Des Moines to join them. The brothers' made early use of mail-order to grow the business. Carl seems to have travelled to Europe to research cosmetics[3]. In 1916 Weeks formed the Armand Face Powder Company. That company's most successful face powder was blended with cold cream, Italian talcs and French perfumes - it was marketed as 'first and only dry face powder which contains cold cream[4]'. The packaging reflected Weeks' time in Europe - the advertising featured illustrations of 17th Century aristocrats and art deco images[5]. The product was hugely successful - by 1927 Fortune wrote that Armand was America's most popular face powder. Weeks also drew on European inspiration for the building of a mansion in Des Moines, and it's here that the story becomes relevant to Salisbury. The Weeks' visited Salisbury in 1925. He was so impressed with the Kings House, in Salisbury Cathedral Close that he decided to make his mansion a loose replica of the Salisbury building. He sourced some of the materials in the Salisbury area too. The Chicago Tribune says in an article entitle 'A touch of old England in Iowa' that:
Their man in England searched for flint, stone and brick, eventually striking pay dirt on Salisbury's Crane Street at an elderly house in use as a boys club. Weeks struck a deal with the club's church sponsor whereby each ponied up half of the home's sales price, then swapped the cost of renovation for old interior materials--paneling, oak flooring, woodwork, fireplaces, doors, stained glass windows and hardware. All of the above were shipped to the cosmetics maker's under-construction Des Moines mansion[6].
My Twitter friend [7] adds the following detail:
Weeks was particularly delighted to find, carved on an old beam taken from the Rechabites Hall, the name ‘C.Weeks’ … probably Christopher Weeks, a former Mayor of Salisbury[8].
. The house was known as 'Salisbury House'. Sadly for the Weeks' family the business went into a long, slow decline after the Depression. In the 1950s the cost of maintenance became too much for the Weeks and they sold Salisbury House to the Iowa State Education Association. The Association occupied the House until 1998, when ownership passed to the Salisbury House Foundation. The King's House is now Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. Hopefully you can see the similarity between the two buildings below - there are more pictures of the two buildings on the websites for Salisbury House and Salisbury Museum respectively - if you know one or other (or both!) of the buildings it's quite fun having clicking through the images.
salisbury museum - inspiration for kings house, des moines, iowa Salisbury House, des Moines - inspired by Salisbury Museum

Image credits
By Jmaxschwerd (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Talbot [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


[1] About Salisbury House - Salisbury House

[2] Hill, Mary Beth. “Weeks, Carl” The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. Web. 2 December 2013 URL: http://uipress.lib.uiowa.edu/bdi/DetailsPage.aspx?id=401

[3] The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa says that

In 1907 Weeks married Edith Van Slyke after a four-year courtship during which he visited her in Europe, where she was studying art. While there, he devoted considerable time to carefully observing a growing Paris market for women’s cosmetics.

[4] Cosmetics and Skin: Armand Company

[5] I’ve not been able to find any non-copyright reproductions of the advertisements, but there are a lot of examples at Cosmetics and Skin: Armand Company

[6] A touch of old England in Iowa - chicagotribune.com

[7] NomadKeith

[8] Salisbury Museum and Salisbury House | Travelrat’s Travels