Huron, South Dakota is the home of the South Dakota State Fair and a hub of the annual pheasant hunting season. Industry in town has also meant a growing immigrant population and some moderate white-flight to the nearest small towns. In the past, my time in Huron had been very brief, but I got to spend the day there recently. What follows are some of the historic places I came across over the day–the only place I failed to capture was Manolis, one of two Greek delis left in town, so you’ll just have to go yourself sometime–lunch there was DELICIOUS. If you have other information on construction date and/or architect/builder for any of these buildings, please let me know.
So here goes the tour…
The Huron Post Office was built in 1912-13 in a classical Renaissance Revival architectural style. It was designed under Supervisory Architect for the U.S. Treasury James Knox Taylor [Western Contractor 20 (July 12, 1911), 27]. There was a rear addition in the 1930s [Dorothy Huss, Huron Revisited (Huron, SD: East Eagle, 1988)]. It is still an active post office, although upper floor rental spaces are vacant.
The Bank of the West building is really interesting since it has a classical design but with ornament more like Art Deco.
These two modern banks stood out in the downtown landscape but I don’t have any info for architect/year.
First Presbyterian Church was built in a Neoclassical architectural style. I have conflicting info about its construction, either 1914 or 1925 and either F.C.W. Kuehn or Miller, Fullenwider, & Dowling for architect… [The American Contractor 35 (May 30, 1914), 83]. The stained glass windows were beautiful, even from the outside. It’s a contributing building within the Campbell Park Historic District.
First Congregational Church was built in 1919-22 (construction was delayed because a fire damaged interior walls)[Huss]. It’s also a Neoclassical style, with interesting symmetrical entrances. It also has beautiful stained glass and star-patterned transom windows, and is a contributing part of the Campbell Park Historic District. The congregation was established in 1884 [Huss].
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) was established in 1926 and built this church in 1955. It’s a non-contributing part of the Campbell Park Historic District because it was built outside the district’s period of significance (1880-1948), and it has large additions on three sides.
Legacy Plaza was built in 1956. It appears a pretty basic Modern building at the start, but on a closer look, there are stylish multi-colored mosaic panels in a vertical band on the front wall and along the entrance wall. [Addendum: I’ve learned that Legacy Plaza, formerly Huron Towers and originally built as St. John’s Nurses Home was designed by the architectural firm, Harold Spitznagel and Associates. With the nice mosaic, makes total sense… Spitznagel’s list of work on the firm’s website, here].
Legacy Plaza sits just west of the Huron Regional Medical Center. Franciscan nuns started St. John’s Hospital and built the first building in 1947. It had additions in 1965 and 1983, with the drive-thru entrance added in 1987. In 1977, the hospital passed from the Catholic church to a non-profit corporation and the name changed from St. John’s to HRMC.
Huron Clinic is a great streamlined International Modern design built in 1947. The lettering is fantastic.
We also stopped by the Centennial Stone Church to meet the local museum director and beg a look at the Pyle House museum. It was a fantastic visit and a great story. The house was designed by John H. Albright and was built in 1894 by John and Mamie Shields Pyle as a showpiece for Huron’s fight to be voted the state capital. John L. Pyle was attorney general. After John’s death in 1902, Mamie, her son, and her three daughters kept on at the house, selling a lot of the land around it so her children’s educational fund would not have to be used. Mamie was a player in the national suffrage movement and led South Dakota passage of a suffrage amendment in S.D. in 1918 and to get legislators to Pierre to ratify national suffrage in 1920, despite many being in the middle of calving season and a spring blizzard. [Photo of Mamie and bit of biography on Flickr here].
John Jr. also grew up to become a lawyer–even doing dangerous work as a D.A. in New York City during prohibition. Mamie made sure all three daughters had a full education, including a degree at Huron College and graduate study in Chicago. The youngest daughter Gladys eventually was the first woman elected to the state legislature, was elected secretary of state for S.D., ran for governor in 1930, was the first woman to run a state executive office as appointed secretary of the securities commission, and was the first woman to be elected to Congress from South Dakota. [More about her on the House of Representatives website here]. She lived on at the house in Huron until her death in 1989 when the house was bought and donated for a museum.
It’s an amazing Queen Anne house that survived with so much intact detail because of the long residence of the Pyle family. And it is particularly amazing that such a museum exists not only to recognize the immense contributions of not one, but two women, and not a particularly wealthy family for much of their history. If you’re in Huron, go to the Pyle House. There isn’t steady traffic, so if it’s closed, stop at the Centennial stone church, a block or two up on Fourth St., or the museum at the fairgrounds to ask if a staff member can take you through the house.
And to wrap up the trip, this small bank in Wolsey (just west of Huron) caught my eye for its Prairie School / Sullivanesque detailing. It’s now a bar, with a distracting plastic sign, but it made for nice architectural eye-candy anyway.