South Dakota Architects – Berg, Bjodstrup, and The Black Hills Co.

This post is the third in a series on architects (and some builders) who were residents of South Dakota in order to dig a bit into their lives and work.  Some made a bigger impact and/or left a better historical record than others, but we miss something if we only study the biggest names.  There are a handful that were only mentioned once and I can’t find anything else about them – maybe I’ll include them in a list at the end…  I’ll do my best to restrict these profiles to architects who are now deceased.  If any readers have additional information or corrections, please leave a note in the comments!


Luvine Berg

Luvine Ole Berg was born in Canton, South Dakota in 1891 to parents of Norwegian heritage. They lived for a time on a farm in Letcher, and Luvine studied architecture by correspondence. In 1914, he patented a hoist/carrier that farmers could use with their existing hay-carrier systems in order to incorporate elevator operations into their barns.  He set up his architecture practice in Mitchell in 1919 and had an office in the Western National Bank building and then the Woelfel Building. In 1920-21, he partnered with Samuel C. Wherry.  Berg designed a handful of commercial buildings, churches, and residences in Mitchell and the surrounding area.

At the time of the Great Depression in the 1930s, he moved to San Francisco, California. During World War II, Berg worked at the Black Hills Ordinance Depot.  Afterwards, he lived in Hill City, Custer, and Rapid City. In 1945, he designed a futuristic complex in the Black Hills that a group from Rapid City put forward for the new United Nations headquarters.  Although the U.N. located in New York City, at least one building was constructed at a Methodist camp at America Center (photo at link in Sources below).  Berg died in 1970 and was buried in Letcher.

Sources:

  • The American Contractor, v.43 (May 20, 1922), 72
  • The American Contractor, v.43 (December 23, 1922), 61A
  • Implement & Tractor Trade Journal (August 6, 1921), 24
  • Proposed plan for electric generation/transport out of Big Bend. Daily Republic (Mitchell SD), March 21, 1949]
  • Stars and Stripes (Washington DC), December 4, 1945.
  • America Center, 1975 (photo)” Watson Parker Ghost Town Notebooks, Briggs Library, South Dakota State University via Digital Library of South Dakota.
  • Klein, Christopher. “The United Nations Headquarters That Never Was.” History.com, October 24, 2013.
  • Mires, Charlene. Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations (New York: New York University Press, 2013), 102 [Google Books snippet view]
  • 1956 AIA Directory, PDF pg.21
  • 1962 AIA Directory, PDF pg. 26
  • On Ancestry.com: Census 1910 Letcher SD, 1920 Mitchell SD, 1930-1940 San Francisco CA
  • Luvine Berg,” on Find-a-Grave.com

Fred Bjodstrup

Fred Bjodstrup was born in Denmark in 1857, immigrated to the United States in about 1876, and came to South Dakota in 1882.  {In the 1905 state census and the 1910 federal census, he was listed as Anthon M. Bjodstrup}.  In 1884, he moved to Mitchell and started a construction company.  He constructed bridges in Minnehaha and Turner Counties.  From the 1890s to 1911, he consisting received bids for bridges in Davison County and was succeeded in 1912 by the Pioneer Bridge Co., which was managed by his son Arthur.  He also built bridges in Miner and Aurora counties.  He also constructed buildings, mainly in Mitchell, including several commercial buildings, the 1903 City Hall, the Widmann Hotel, as well as Century Memorial (Graham) Hall and the President’s House (Music Hall/Prather Hall/Prexy Lodge) on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University.  Fred Bjodstrup continued working with his son until retiring in the early 1920s.  He died in 1937 and was buried in Mitchell.

Sources:


The Black Hills Co.

The company was started in 1909 by J.P. Eisentraut as a re-organization of his Eisentraut Co. of Kansas City, Missouri. The firm set up its office in Deadwood and also engaged in engineering, contracting, brick manufacture, stone quarrying, and building supply trade. At its founding, Eisentraut served as president, W.O. Roselius was vice-president, and architect W.M. Rich was secretary-treasurer. Already by 1911, there were reports in the Lead and Deadwood newspapers that the company was having financial problems because of outstanding debts. The company dissolved because of these problems, and Eisentraut and Rich went to Hot Springs where they took over operation of the Burke quarries. Despite the company’s short life, they designed several courthouses, homes, churches, and businesses throughout western South Dakota and into Colorado and Nebraska.

Sources:

  • Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD), June 9, 1912.
  • Western Contractor 17 (December 27, 1909), 10.
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