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Fountain of Travels

Posted October 17, 2012 in Community Featured, Des Moines West

The Barzen family live in the house known for its fountain and its knight.

Two objects get a lot of notice outside David and Kristy Barzen’s south-of-Grand-Avenue home.

First is the large fountain in the front yard of the 1924 Tudor-style home at 420 51st St. Second is the knight that stands outside the front door.

The Barzens love to travel, and it’s that love that led to the concept of the foundation.

David attended an open house, where he saw a fountain and liked the idea. Several months later, the couple was in New Orleans and found a bronze statue they loved. It was shipped to Des Moines, where it sat in the backyard for about a year.

During the next couple of years, David designed the pool for the fountain, which was carved in Italy, and found a tile maker who could make the tiles that spell out various cities, states, regions and countries in which the Barzens have traveled.

“I came up with this idea to call it the Fountain of Travels,” David says.

The knight was Kristy’s idea. She saw it at a farmers’ market in Kansas City about eight years ago and thought they needed it.

Since then, the Barzen home has been known as the house with the knight and the fountain.

The house was originally built by a doctor. The exterior is Tudor style, with ornate carvings made from plaster, while the interior is more craftsman style.

David, Jackson and Roman and Kristy Barzen

 The couple has redone almost every inch of the inside of the house. The fireplace was torn out and a new mantel was built. Carpets were ripped up; hardwood floors were refinished. Wainscoting was installed in the dining room. The kitchen was remodeled, and an antique glass window was added.

One of the most interesting features of the house is the third-floor attic, which had plain white walls when they couple moved in. They decided to use the room to showcase their travels and hired an artist to paint various three-dimensional postcard scenes from some of the places they have visited. First was a canal view of Venice, Italy, taken from a panoramic photo David took.

Other images include scenes of the Rhine River and the Amalfi Coast. The painter also incorporated work from the Sistine Chapel including an image on the ceiling of God and the disciples.

And, of course, leading up the stairs to the room, the walls have been painted liked the interior of a castle, complete with a medieval knight who stands guard.

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