Everyone is Served: Celebrate New Life for the Edna Griffin Building

Everyone is Served: Celebrating New Life for the Edna Griffin Building was a  live-streamed virtual celebration celebration IAF organized in 2020.

Links to three videos about this celebration follow:

VIDEO ONE (Building tour, interviews and fabulous performers)


VIDEO TWO (interactive reception & Q&A with Griffin family)




Share this event by sharing our links across the state and beyond. This art and architecture experience honors civil rights activist Edna Griffin and the building named for her in downtown Des Moines. It will be recorded to share with students and schools everywhere. We encourage you to share it with your friends and family, no matter where they live.

To celebrate the rehabilitation of this Iowa landmark, architect Andy Lorentzen, AIA, of RDG Planning & Design, will take guests on a behind-the-scenes tour of the building, showing the spaces where these events occurred as well as showcasing the building’s recent rehabilitation. The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places due to its significance in Iowa and US civil rights history and architectural legacy. The rehabilitation project includes first floor retail, where Kum & Go has launched a new healthy convenience store, second floor office space and approximately thirty-five apartments.

A big part of the event is the artistic/creative experience, including a virtual gallery of historic images of Edna’s accomplishments. This has been organized by Pyramid Theatre’s, Tiffany Johnson and the Iowa Architectural Foundation’s Executive Director, Claudia Cackler. Performances will include Iowa Blues Hall of Fame honorees Dartanyan Brown, George Davis and Gilbert Davis Sr., with more surprises in store. Speakers include Edna’s son, Stanley Griffin, Mary Campos and Chuck Irvine with their personal recollections.

The building named in Edna Griffin’s honor has an amazing story to tell. On July 7, 1948, Edna, her one-year-old daughter and two other African Americans in her party, sat at the Katz Drug Store lunch counter located on the first floor, and were denied service due to their race. After this incident, she, with others, became key players in two successful law suits brought against Katz. Mrs. Griffin continued organizing boycotts and protests and spent her life as an activist for human rights and justice.

Order your virtual swag bag of goodies! Email Claudia Cackler <director@iowaarchfoundation.org> and you will receive a virtual swag bag with information about IAF’s architecture programs for students, coupons for a free downtown architecture tour, Adventures in Architecture summer day camp at Central Campus (now pushed to 2021), student drawing and photo contests and how to access IAF’s Downtown Des Moines architecture mobile app for self-tours. It will also include information about Pyramid Theatre and the State Historical Society of Iowa programs.

We hope this will inspire attendees to find out more about the stories behind the buildings in their neighborhoods and communities!

Many thanks to IAF’s partners Artistic Director, Tiffany Johnson and Pyramid Theatre, and the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, specifically Michael Morain, Dan Bolsem and Paula Mohr. Thank you to our generous sponsors: Neumann Bros. Const, RDG Planning & Design, Forrest & Assoc., Tim Rypma, Des Moines Griffin Building, LLC, Tesdell Electric, Ralph N. Smith Flooring, Kum & Go, Skold Companies and Baker Group. IAF and Pyramid Theatre are both partially funded through BRAVO.