In Memorium, City Edition: Pierre

Our capitol city has lost many significant and/or gorgeous buildings.  It’s hard to  look at some of these archival photographs and think “How did we lose that!?!”  Towards the bottom of the list, I’ll run through some of the recent losses–those that had been neglected, damaged, or vacated and cleared to make way for whatever comes next.  Then, way at the bottom are citations for frequently used sources, I’ll just put the minimal citation in the text.

For more on Pierre’s surviving historic places and city history: Pierre/Fort Pierre Travel Itinerary from the National Park Service and the Historic Pierre website of the Pierre/Fort Pierre Historic Preservation Office.

Now, here are some (actually, a quite a few) short(-ish) building biographies for a selection of Pierre places that live now only in archive and memory…


The first capitol building in Pierre was built in 1890 on the northeast corner of Retreat Street (later renamed Capitol Avenue) and Hill Street (renamed Nicollet Avenue), after South Dakota became a state in 1889.  The twenty acres of capitol grounds were gifted to the state by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), January 9, 1890 and August 11, 1904].  In 1891, the state funded an addition that made the building an L-shape [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), August 20, 1891 and August 11, 1904; Cerney, 119].  Territorial archives were stored in a basement room [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), August 11, 1904].  The two-story wood-frame structure had narrow one-over-one windows, occasional gable wall dormers with sunburst siding along its roofline, and metal cresting along the roof ridges.  As the state became more established, concerns were expressed that the building was too small, cheap, and unimposing, and that a potential fire in the wood building would put not just the building, but the records and court library within it, in danger [i.e. Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), January 13, 1905; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), December 1, 1904].  It was demolished after state operations moved into the current Neoclassical building, finished in 1910.  There had been multiple votes in the state about which city should be the permanent state capitol.  The city of Pierre began investing in a new stone capitol building as a way to secure the vote.  The city of Mitchell had built their own proposed capitol building, which then became their city hall building after Pierre won the final vote for capitol city. [The Mitchell Capital (SD), April 15, 1904 and Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), July 2, 1908]

From the South Dakota State Archives:

The Gas Belt Exposition building was relatively temporary, but still an unusual story in Pierre’s history.  I have done a post in the past about the exposition, link here, and, from the South Dakota State Archives: A tinted photograph of the exposition building with visitors outside.

The first Hughes County Courthouse was built in 1883 by contractor George Smith [Cerney 100, 103].  Hughes County had been organized by the state legislature in 1880 [Cerney 100, 103].  The Victorian brick building had arched windows, a front entrance portico, large brackets and medallions at the eaves, an elaborate front gable and dormers with circular windows, and several tall chimneys.  It originally had a central clocktower with an ogee-shaped roof, but it was removed prior to 1909 [Hughes County Courthouse, on; Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 62].  The county jail was located in the building basement [Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps].  The courthouse housed the first state House of Representatives until the first capitol building was finished [George Martin Smith, “South Dakota: Its History and Its People,” in Kingsbury, v.3, 117].  The building was demolished in 1934 and a new building was constructed with New Deal-era Public Works Administration funding [Cerney 100, 103].  I do like the current building, but the original looked like it was pretty stunning.

Photo in De Lorme W. Robinson, “The City of Pierre,” Midland Monthly Magazine (1895), ii.

From the South Dakota State Archives:

The Carnegie Library was built in 1904 and opened in 1905 [Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), June 24, 1904; Libraries: A Monthly Review 10 (1905), 152].  It was designed by W.L. Dow & Sons/E.R. Dow and built by local contractors Clow & Steiner using local granite and Kasota sandstone [Similar material was used for the 1934 county courthouse.  Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton, SD), September 11, 1903 and November 13, 1903; The Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), August 21, 1903Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), July 23, 1903].  The city originally received a grant of $10,000 from the Carnegie Corporation and later appealed for an increase, receiving an additional $2,500 in addition to some supplemental funds from the city and county [The Mitchell Capital (SD), November 27, 1903 et al.; Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), December 18, 1903].  One of the Carnegie program requirements was that the city provide a location for the library building and a commitment to providing operational funds into the future.   In May 1903, a special vote was taken to provide land on the courthouse square for the library [The Aberdeen Democrat (SD), May 29, 1903].  The library basement was designed as an auditorium room for community use [The Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), August 21, 1903].  The library held a book shower to provide its first volumes for the collection [Libraries, 152].  The first librarian was Alice M. Hughes, who served until 1907 [Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton, SD), April 26, 1907].

In 1972, library operations moved to a new building on Church Street [Beverly Lewis, “History and Vision” (January 2013), on the City of Pierre website].  In 1988, the building was renovated for use as sheriff’s offices [South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office survey records].  After sustaining fire damage following a maintenance accident (trying to removed paint from the cornice with blowtorches, wtf), it was demolished in 1995 [“Pierre Carnegie Library,” Pierre and Fort Pierre Historic Places website, 2016].  The space is now a parking lot…

Pierre Carnegie Library, photo from the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office.

Pierre Carnegie Library, photo from the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office.

From South Dakota State Archives:

The first governors of South Dakota were provided a housing allowance to find housing in hotels or apartments as they were able, but in 1920, the state purchased a tract of land with an existing one-and-a-half-story house that was used as a governor’s residence starting in 1925 [“South Dakota’s Governors Mansion,” Pierre and Fort Pierre Historic Places website; Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 26].  In 1936, Governor Tom Berry solicited funds from the Works Progress Administration and building plans from the Resettlement Administration to construct a new Governor’s Mansion, a large (for the time) but simple wood frame structure with a two-story central portion with a one-story wing to the south and a two-car garage extending to the north [“Governor’s Mansion,” State of South Dakota website].  It was built with Black Hills lumber from CCC camps, brick from Belle Fourche, and cement from the state plant (in Yankton?) and finished in 1937 [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 27].  In 2003, it was moved to a location near Rapid City and replaced with the present Neo-Eclectic style mansion [“The ‘New’ Old Governor’s Mansion,” (August 12, 2008), KELO News].

From the South Dakota State Archives:


The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Passenger Depot in Pierre was very stately and sat on a terrace of earth between Upper and Lower Pierre Streets (the two commercial areas).  The architects were Frost & Granger of Chicago, and the contract was awarded to E.P. Shandberg [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), April 18, 1907].  Excavation for the depot started in April 1907, construction began in May, and it opened in February 1908 [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), March 21, 1907; May 16, 1907; and February 13, 1908].  The brick structure had a central two-and-a-half-story portion with one-story wings on either side.  The two-story section included a central ticket office, men’s and women’s waiting rooms, and division offices on the second floor [Sanborn Insurance Map (October 1908), sheet 7].  The northern wing contained a kitchen and restaurant/lunch counter that was later used for offices.  The south wing was connected by a breezeway and contained space for express, baggage, and lockers [1908 Sanborn Map].   A sign visible on high-resolution images shows that “Bicycle riding [was] prohibited on the platform.”  The waiting rooms had large arched windows and marble terrazzo floors [Cerney, 105].  A large set of steps led from the depot down to Pierre Street along the railroad bridge.  It was demolished in 1964.  A motel called Iron Horse Inn, no longer in business, was built on the site [Cerney, 105].

The construction of the 1907 passenger depot, roundhouse, and Missouri river bridge made Pierre a division headquarters for the railroad line [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), August 15, 1907].  At least one local news editor connected the railroad’s investment in constructing facilities in Pierre and their push for Pierre as the state capitol with a belief in Pierre’s potential for growth [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), August 31, 1905].

From the South Dakota State Archives (a selection, there are more):

According to photos in the state archives, an earlier two-story passenger depot at 231 S. Pierre Street was built in 1880 and expanded with a one-story addition in 1881.  The images show a wood-frame building with six-over-six windows, exposed brackets, wide eaves, and a wood platform running along the north edge of the building.  It was dismantled and sold in 1960.   Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the 1880s-90s show passenger and freight depots on the northwest corner of Pierre Street and Sioux Avenue, the corner where a federal building/post office was constructed in the 1960s.  The railroad had owned the whole stretch of land between Sioux Avenue and Pleasant Drive until they began selling off lots in the 1950s.  After the 1907 passenger depot was built by the C&NW up above, the Sanborn map in 1908 labeled this structure as the freight house for the first time.

There were items in the local newspaper indicating that there was a freight depot on which an addition was put to double its size in 1906 (that could be an expansion of the one-story section of the older depot),  and that there was constructed a new freight depot in Pierre in 1908 [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), December 20, 1906 and August 6, 1908].

South Dakota State Archives photograph of early Pierre showing the depot; and photographs of the freight depot, with writing on them c.1960-61: one and two.

The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Roundhouse was built on corner of Dakota  Avenue and Park Street in the eastern part of town.  Railroad tracks came in from the east and west to a turn table that directed train engines into the semi-circular brick building with about ten stalls.  The roundhouse was connected by a small hyphen to a building with offices and machine shop [Sanborn Insurance Map (May 1941), sheet 6].  The car stalls had tall double wood doors with nine-light windows.  The building had sixteen-over-sixteen arched windows and a half-monitor roof with multi-pane transom windows, of which the center of each set of three pivoted on a horizontal axis.  It was there through 1941* on Sanborns…  An earlier roundhouse built in 1886 was noted on Sanborn maps at a location above Sioux Avenue at about Ree Street, closer to the town center.  It was removed in 1908 after the new structure was completed [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), October 29, 1908].

South Dakota State Archives photographs, one and two (higher resolution).  An interesting description of the work that happened at the roundhouse in the Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), September 1, 1904.

The 1926 highway bridge was one of five similar bridges at Pierre, Mobridge, Wheeler, Chamberlain, and Forest City that were planned by the State of South Dakota through a 1923 legislative appropriation to improve the state highway system [Mark Hufstetler, Prairie Crossings: South Dakota’s Historic Roadway Bridges (Pierre: SD Department of Transportation, 2014), 60].  An 1890s seasonal pontoon bridge had preceded it [Hufstetler, 58; De Lorme W. Robinson, “The City of Pierre,” Midland Monthly Magazine (1895), iv].  The 1926 bridge built by Lakeside Bridge & Steel Co. of North Milwaukee, Wisconsin featured “four 300-foot and two 336-foot riveted Pennsylvania through truss spans”; or Pratt truss spans with 64 ft. deck plate girders for the approach spans [Hufstetler, 61; Emory Johnson, Oral History Interview with Kenneth R. Scurr, “Missouri River Bridges of South Dakota, 1920-1980,” 4].  A second highway bridge was built because of increasing traffic along SD Highway 14 and opened in 1960 (or 1962?) [Johnson/Scurr, 13].  The 1926 bridge was closed in 1962 but not demolished until 1986 because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had required complete removal “to the flow line of the river,” an expensive proposal, and there was no private entity who wanted to salvage the spans [Hufstetler, 62; Johnson/Scurr, 14].

From the South Dakota State Archives:


The Hotel Locke was a four-story hotel built with local brick in 1889-1890 by contractor George Smith for W.P. Locke of Waterville, New York, in time for the inauguration of the state’s first governor, Arthur Mellette, and as a part of a small building boom that came after Pierre was first named the capitol of the new state of South Dakota.  Locke also built hotels in the Black Hills, California, Kentucky, and in New York [Daniel Elbridge Wager, ed., Our Country and Its People: A Descriptive Work on Oneida County, New York (Boston Publishing Company, 1896), 12].  Locke hired resident managers and eventually, the hotel was sold to a local company [De Lorme W. Robinson, “The City of Pierre,” Midland Monthly Magazine (1895), vi; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), December 25, 1890 and April 2, 1914].  One streetcar, pulled by one mule, ran in front of the Locke to East Pierre; two mules pulled another car from the Locke up the hill to Capitol Avenue [Hughes County History (Pierre: Office of County Superintendent of Schools, Hughes County, SD, 1937), 28-29].

The Hotel Locke had 108-110 rooms and a large open central parlor on the second floor with promenade balconies and a skylight.  Built in 75 days, the hotel had electricity, bathrooms for each floor, a fourth floor dining room/kitchen, steam laundry, and an elevator [The Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), January 24, 1890].  Inaugural balls were held there until 1907, when they were moved to the new opera house.   The parlor held many dances and receptions for the capitol city.  The hotel also included spaces for billiards, a card room, saloon, dining rooms (until 1917), a barber, a tailor, sample rooms for traveling salesmen, offices for rent, and rear wings that were built for kitchens, staff quarters, and a bathhouse [Sanborn Insurance Map (October 1892), sheet 4; (November 1898), sheet 4; (October 1908), sheet 2; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), April 13, 1911 and April 19, 1917].  In the 1890s, it was optimistically speculated and promoted that Pierre would draw tourists coming for healing mineral springs drawn to the surface with artesian wells, and in 1894-95, the hotel had the Pierre Irrigation Company sink an artesian well directly behind the building to supply warm mineral water for its plunge bath and natural gas for its kitchens, lighting, and heating–a faucet in the lobby with water from the well was sometimes lit on fire for visitors [Wager, 12; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), April 5, 1894, April 12, 1894November 29, 1894, January 31, 1895February 14, 1895, and August 1, 1895; The Mitchell Capital (SD), January 25, 1895; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), January 31, 1895Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), February 1, 1895; N.H. Darton, “Preliminary Report on the Artesian Waters of a Portion of the Dakota,” 17th Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey (Washington DC: GPO, 1896), 629; “Natural Gas and Artesian Water Discovered at Pierre,” South Dakota Representative 1(1) (January 19, 1901), 3].  The kitchen wing had a bad fire in 1903 and the bathhouse addition had to be rebuilt after it collapsed in 1912 [The Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), June 26, 1903; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), May 9, 1912].

From its first opening, the hotel was temporary residence and ‘headquarters’ for many who came to Pierre during legislative sessions, making it a center for political conversation, lobbying, and press interviews [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), January 8, 1890 and January 9, 1890].  In one account, “the Hotel Locke has been political headquarters and there most legislative schemes have been hatched and most legislative action, good or bad, agreed upon, and the solons have tramped up to the unattractive old capitol chiefly to officially record what has previously been effected at the Locke” [The Sisseton Weekly Standard (SD), January 6, 1911].

The hotel was also commonly used for banquets, lectures, concerts, swimming parties, club and charitable events, weddings, business and government meetings, and as space for itinerant professionals (particularly medical or pseudo-medical) to meet with customers [For example, but there were many more: Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), March 12, 1891, August 24, 1893, March 7, 1895December 2, 1909October 20, 1910, April 13, 1911, and March 14, 1918].  For a time the U.S. land office (where homesteads were recorded) were located in the hotel building, and it hosted registration booths when lands were opened for settlement on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation to the north [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), September 14, 1905 and September 30, 1909].

The Hotel Locke was demolished in 1980.  It was located on the southwest corner of Dakota Avenue and Fort Street.  [Cerney, 103-104].

From the South Dakota State Archives: photo of the hotel before the streets were paved; a photo from c.1909; a photo from the west showing the nearby fire department; a fabulous photo of the interior parlor in 1908; a photo showing later changes (including exterior paint) from before 1952 [a photo from the 1952 flood showing the hotel in the background]; a detail of the entrance post-paint.

Historic postcard showing the hotel on Dakota Ave. from Cardcow, here.

An article listing the menu for New Year’s Eve at the Hotel Locke: Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), January 2, 1908.

The Riverview Hotel was a 3-story wood frame building with porches running across its whole façade, and it was located on the northwest corner of Pleasant Dr. and Huron St.  The hotel had a smaller two-story building behind it, connected at the first story, for kitchens.  The hotel also had a dining room, which had a phonograph playing during meals for a time [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), May 12, 1904; Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1915].  A former schoolhouse and Grand Army of the Republic hall was eventually incorporated into the Riverview Hotel, and it housed the first state senate until the capitol building was finished [Saturday News (Watertown SD), March 18, 1910].  The hotel was also used for weddings, banquets, and other social events as well as a music studio for lessons [e.g. Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), May 26, 1904, March 29, 1906, November 14, 1907, November 11, 1909, and November 7, 1912].  In 1908-09, the hotel company moved the wooden building west in order to build a new front 4-story building of brick and limestone, which would be connected to the old building [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), July 2, 1908; The Aberdeen Democrat (SD), July 3, 1908].  In 1917, its kitchens were used be a military unit camped for drilling at the city auditorium [Forest City Press (SD), July 27, 1917].  It was later made into the Hotel Osgood but was destroyed in a fire in 1930 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1927 and 1941; South Dakota State Gazetteer (R. L. Polk & Company, 1921), 503; The Black Hills Weekly (Deadwood SD), March 27, 1930].

Wells House was a three-story frame building in East Pierre (near the southwest corner of Central Avenue and 10th Street) that was in place before the 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for Pierre was drawn.  From an 1889 photograph in the South Dakota State Archives, it had a central bay window on the second and third floor, an elaborate cornice, a few arched windows, and a full-length one-story porch with ironwork along the roof and friezework.  It was the headquarters for Governor Mellette and other state officers in 1889 after statehood [Saturday News (Watertown SD), March 18, 1910; Kingsbury, v.3, 117; Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 26].  The hotel was a main stop of a street car line between East Pierre and Pierre [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), May 28, 1891 and October 12, 1893].  Many kinds of social events were held there, including dances, weddings, holiday dinners, a game of progressive whist, and planning meetings for the ladies exhibit at the World’s Fair [e.g. Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), February 19, 1891March 12, 1891March 19, 1891, July 21, 1892, January 5, 1893, and December 27, 1894].  East Pierre did not become the commercial center it had hoped to be.  In the 1898 Sanborn Map, the Wells House building was marked as vacant and that it would be the Catholic Hospital (although the Park Hotel became the hospital…).  After demolition, the materials were used in constructing the Catholic academy [Saturday News (Watertown SD), March 18, 1910].

Schubert Block / Corner Drug Store was first built before 1884 (probably 1881, Schubert arrived in town in 1880) as a wood-frame, false-front building, but it was rebuilt in 1892 as an ornate Romanesque brick commercial block with an arched stone corner entrance [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (1884), sheet 2, (1892), sheet 5; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), August 31, 1893 and November 23, 1905].  It was located on the southeast corner of Dakota and Coteau Streets.  M.J. Schubert’s drug store sold drugs, lotions and perfumes, glass, artist and painters’ supplies (paint, oils, varnishes, putty, brushes), toys, souvenirs (and “Indian curios”), and sewing machines [e.g. Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), September 12, 1895July 12, 1906, September 10, 1908, and August 11, 1910].   The building also housed a hall for the Modern Woodmen of America, a furniture store, printer, dance hall, bakery/grocery, a library, and offices [Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps 1892-1941; Dakota Horticulture, snippet on Google Books; South Dakota Library Bulletin 11 (March-June 1925), 6].  The drug store was listed as vacant by 1915, but the business must have moved elsewhere because in 1922, Schubert sold the drug store business to pharmacist and former employee John J. McKay [Sanborn Insurance Map (1915), sheet 6; The Northwestern Druggist 30 (May 1922), 75].

There is a sketch of the building in: De Lorme W. Robinson, “The City of Pierre,” Midland Monthly Magazine (1895), viii.

From the South Dakota State Archives, a photograph of the masonry Schubert Block and the National Bank of Commerce with a street car outside; tinted photo postcard of the Corner Drug Store.  The earlier frame building for the Schubert “Corner Drug Store,” photograph of it and the Kehr Pioneer store and an interior photograph.

In 1881, Louis Kehr started his grocery and general store, the Pioneer Store, on the northeast corner of Dakota & Coteau Streets, across from friend M.J. Schubert’s store[Cerney, 110; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD),  November 23, 1905].  It was a two-story wood frame building with a half false-front and a one-story shed-roof porch.  After 1892, he expanded the store, doubling it to the north [Sanborn Insurance Map (1892), sheet 5].  The addition had a more elaborate cornice and the porch was extended across its front.  In 1906, the building and others one the block had to be raised and put on new foundations in order to meet the street grade [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), August 23, 1906].  After 1908, he replaced the wood building with a brick one, the Kehr Block, which had a corner entrance, balconette above the entrance, and a small pediment at the peak [Sanborn Insurance Map (1908), sheet 3].  It was later used for “World of Donuts” and the Flame Room, and it was demolished in 1972 [Cerney, 110].

From the South Dakota State Archives: photograph of the first wood frame building for the Pioneer Store as well as the Corner Drug Store across the street; faded 1898 photograph after the first addition; photograph of the second brick building; 1980 photograph of the building as the Flame Room.

The National Bank of Commerce was established in April 1889 by then-mayor B.J. Templeton [Cerney, 108; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), November 13, 1890].  An early photograph showed the bank at a location on the southwest corner of Dakota and Coteau Streets, the Templeton Block, which had a Romanesque style with arched openings on the first floor, recessed entrance, and a peaked cornice [See photo below; Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), November 20, 1890].  The brick bank building was constructed by George Smith in 1890 from a design by M. Ellis & Co. of Omaha [Cerney, 108].  In 1908, the bank built a new temple-front, Bedford limestone building on the corner of Pierre and Dakota Streets (at the west end of the same city block) [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), May 30, 1907 and February 6, 1908].  The contractor was H.E. Potter [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), July 11, 1907].  The building also housed professional offices and a barber shop [e.g. Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), January 16, 1908February 6, 1908, and December 18, 1913].  The bank closed in 1925 because of the agricultural recession [Cerney, 108].  The building was used as offices [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (May 1941), sheet 3].

The first building was subsequently used as offices, a cigar factory, and city hall before being demolished in 1961 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (October 1908), sheet 3; (December 1915), sheet 5; (May 1941), sheet 3; Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 51].

From the South Dakota State Archives: an early photograph showing the first National Bank of Commerce building across from the Schubert Block, a tinted postcard of the second National Bank of Commerce; high-resolution photograph of the bank; a later photograph with Sears.

The Park Hotel was built in about 1883 [Press and Daily Dakotaian (Yankton SD), October 26, 1883].  It went through several owners who were not able to make it a success [Popp, 57].  It caught fire in 1885 [Press and Daily Dakotaian (Yankton SD), April 17, 1885].  Once it was speculated that it could be made into a sanitarium with an artesian well for mineral waters [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), June 29, 1893].  The large three-story building had a long veranda across the first story of the north and east elevations and a cupola on the roof.  The building was marked on maps as closed in 1892 and 1898 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (October 1892), sheet 7; (November 1898), sheet 7].  The hotel was bought from the John D. Hilger & Co. by the Catholic Church for a school to be run by the Benedictine Sisters, the Ss. Peter and Paul Academy, but because the need for health care was so immediate they opened St. Mary’s Hospital there in 1899 [Cerney, 100; “Avera St. Mary’s History,” website; “Band of Sisters,” Capitol Journal (Pierre SD), May 29, 2014; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), December 31, 1896 and May 16, 1901].

“‘There was nothing in that building, it had been abandoned for about seven years. The story I heard is that they went out to like the ash heap and got cookware and things like that, silverware, cleaned it up, and that was what they used. They had nothing else. They had no money to buy anything,’ Sister Francis Schumacher said. ‘Their first patients, I guess they paid with ducks or chickens or whatever else they brought in. There was just nothing else to work with.’”
— “Band of Sisters,” Capitol Journal (Pierre SD), May 29, 2014.

At the hospital, there was offered general medicine, surgery, and obstetrical care [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), February 28, 1918].  In 1909, Theodore F. Riggs began his practice as a surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital and did training for forty-five students from Johns Hopkins University and other institutions from 1919 until his retirement in the early 1950s [Kingsbury, v.5, 425; C.F. Gutch, “Dr. T.F. Riggs and the Johns Hopkins Connection,” South Dakota Journal of Medicine 49(3) (March 1996), abstract].  The hospital built on an elevator bay on the east elevation between 1908 and 1915 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (October 1908), sheet 7; (December 1915), sheet 8].  The sisters also ran a day school there to teach music, art, painting, needlework, and languages, which ran until 1903 when an academy was built on Euclid Avenue Hill [Cerney, 100].  The sisters had a garden to provide produce for the hospital [“Heritage on display at Avera St. Mary’s,” Capitol Journal (Pierre SD), October 24, 2014.].  The hospital built a new brick building in 1930 to the east but continued using the old one for a time as dormitory, chapel, laundry, and coal room [Cerney, 100; Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (May 1941), sheet 6].  The old building was demolished in 1952 and replaced with a new nursing care facility [Popp, 57].

From the South Dakota State Archives: a 1909 high-resolution photograph of the hospital; an early photograph with cars parked in front; a tinted photo postcard showing the 1930 building with the old hotel building behind it.


The Presbyterian Church opened Pierre University in 1883 and built a wood-frame building called Pioneer Hall that year [Huron College Bulletin, (June 1916), 12].  In a bid for the university, the city of Pierre had offered twenty acres of land and $13,000 for the construction of the educational institution [National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nomination for the Blackburn House, Pierre].  Religious and educational institutions were looked to as a ‘civilizing’ influence over the ‘rough’ Western town.  In 1884, the university built McCormick Hall for the men’s dormitory building and the first college building became the women’s dormitory [Cerney, 101; Henry Addison Nelson and Albert B. Robinson, The Church at Home and Abroad (March 1895), 239].  McCormick Hall was funded by an endowment from Cyrus McCormick, an industrialist from Chicago [NRHP nomination, Blackburn House].  McCormick Hall was a three-story Second Empire masonry building with a tall tower at the entrance, located at 14th and Erskine Streets.

Pierre University’s focus was on training ministers and teachers, and it awarded the first higher education degree in Dakota Territory in May 1887 [Nelson and Robinson, 240; NRHP nomination, Blackburn House].  The depression of the 1890s hit the area hard and the college was merged with Scotland Academy and relocated to Huron in 1898 where it became Huron College [Popp, 61; Huron College Bulletin, (June 1916), 12].  In 1905, the vacant building was used “as a lazaretto or pest house” to temporarily house smallpox patients [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), July 13, 1905].  McCormick Hall was later demolished [in 1910 according to Cerney, 101, but was standing “vacant and dilapidated” on the 1915 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map].

From the South Dakota State Archives: photograph 1; photograph 2; wide view photograph of McCormick and Pioneer Halls from north; wide view of both buildings from south; an interior photograph of a stage in an assembly room.

Washington School was a two-story 1890 Romanesque brick building with a rubblestone foundation, a deeply-recessed arched entrance, and a corner belltower.   It was located at the corner of Erskine and Monroe Streets, serving as the East ward school in East Pierre. The school housed grades 1 through 8 [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), September 9, 1909].  It faced a major fire in 1894, but was repaired [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), February 15, 1894].  Students tended gardens in the school yard [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), October 5, 1905].  During World War I, an office of the Red Cross used space in the school and held a fundraising “‘war kitchen’ social” there [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), August 16, 1917 and November 8, 1917].  The Washington School was demolished before it was replaced on the same site in 1935 [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 140].  The west ward school, the Lincoln School, that was built at the same time, has been converted into the Pringle Apartments on Poplar Avenue.

From the South Dakota State Archives: photograph 1; photograph 2; photograph 3; photograph 4 (Lincoln School); c1890 class photograph outside the school; 1902 class photograph outside Washington School; an interior photograph of a classroom at the Washington School; photograph of the Art & Music room.

The Old Central School was a two-story Romanesque building with a large recessed arched entrance, a tower and turrents, and small bell tower, located across Capitol Avenue diagonally from the State Capitol building.   It was built in 1890 [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 134].  A building for the superintendent’s residence and the school heating plant was later built behind the Central school building [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (December 1915), sheet 3].  In 1911, a new high school building was opened and Central School became a Grade 1-8 school [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), March 9, 1911 and August 22, 1912].  The school was burned down in March 1927 when a third high school building was built in its place [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 139; Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (October 1927), sheet 8].

From South Dakota State Archives: a photograph of the school with students outside and visible is the cut in the earth that was made to lay sidewalks; a high resolution photograph of the school with boys hanging around in the yard and visible is the stone wall that was built along the sidewalk grade; a streetscape photograph showing Central School between the second high school and the episcopal church; an interior photograph (1) of a classroom in the Central building, interior photograph (2).

The Pierre High School was first planned in 1908, designed by local architect William H. Hoover, and built by Wold & Johnson, a construction company from Brookings [Improvement Bulletin 37 (June 20, 1908), 25 and (September 12, 1908), 24].  In 1911, the new high school was finally completed and classes were relocated there that spring [Pierre Weekly Free Press (SD), March 9, 1911].  The school had classes in commercial, agricultural, and domestic science classes, as well as standard classrooms.  In 1918, the school district started a one-year normal school course for students who wanted to teach in rural schools [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 135].

Another high school was built in 1927 and opened in January 1928 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (1941), sheet 10; Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 139].  The two-story brick Collegiate Gothic building had two arched entrance towers with scrolled concrete accents.  It had a large gymnasium at the back of the building.  The old 1911 high school was converted into a junior high for 7-9th grades under principal Georgia Morse (the namesake of the present middle school) [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 140].  In 1962, a new high school was built and the 1928 building joined the 1911 building in service as a junior high [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 143].  In 1971, the 1911 was demolished and a new junior high was built connected to the 1928 building [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 144].  The 1928 building was demolished in 1997 [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 144].

From the South Dakota State Archives:


The Old Methodist Church was a wood-frame Late Gothic Revival building with a simple gable roof and a bell tower on one side that had elaborate screens, brackets, circular windows, and a steep roof with peaked eaves.  The entrance was at the base of the tower and had a large lancet arch transom that matched an adjoining window.  Other windows were simpler, with peaked surrounds.  It was the congregation’s second building, built in 1883 and located at 117 N. Central Avenue, where the present 1910 building is now located.  It was demolished in advance of that subsequent construction.

Profile about the congregation on the Pierre/Fort Pierre Travel Itinerary, NPS.

From South Dakota State Archives, an overall photograph of the front of the church and the bell tower; a higher-resolution view of the church, but trees block part of it.

The First Baptist Church was built between 1892 and 1898 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps] and was located across Capitol Avenue from the first federal courthouse.  The wood-frame church had a large Gothic-arch stained glass window on the façade, a corner bell tower with a double entrance at the base, two additional entrances on the façade, and a small entry porch down the side opposite the tower.  The church was demolished after 1941, and the site is now a  parking lot.

From the South Dakota State Archives, a 1905 photograph of the church and surroundings; a high-resolution 1909 photograph of the church and parsonage; a later photograph of the church with stucco but before front window covered; a 1990 photograph of the church, shows a piece of the movie theater adjoining.

Trinity Episcopal Church was a brick-veneered building with Gothic-arched doors and windows.  It had a projecting bay off the east corner of the façade that had a pyramidal roof.  Tall steps with stone walls led up from the street corner.  It was started before 1887 and the congregation met in the completed basement until finishing the rest of the structure before 1892 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1887 and 1892].  The church had a parsonage behind the church, and a connection between them was built between 1898 and 1903  [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1898-1927].  The building was demolished after 1941, and the congregation built a new facility in ___.

From the South Dakota State Archives, a photograph of the church after 1911 and adjoining high schools, a photograph of the church with newly-planted trees in front.

The old Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church and Rectory were wood-frame buildings.  The church was built in 1883-1884 and the rectory soon afterwards [Parish history, compiled].  The church was simple with a corner bell tower, which had a tall steeple with peaked eaves and a double-door at the base.  The one-and-a-half story rectory was connected to the church.  The congregation built the Academy/parochial school building with material from the dismantled Wells House hotel.  It opened in 1903, but closed in 1909; it was still standing and used irregularly by the parish until it was demolished in 1944 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1915 and 1941; Parish history, compiled].  The congregation built the present church on the same site in 1941.

From the South Dakota State Archives, an early photograph of the church and rectory; a photograph of the church, rectory (with a wrapped porch), and academy.


The Charles H. Burke mansion was located at 212 W. Capitol Avenue, across from the St. Charles Hotel, and was built between 1892 and 1898 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1892-1898].  The Burke house was an elaborate Queen Anne Victorian house.  Burke (1861-1944) was a U.S. Congressman who had also served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1921-1929 and was instrumental in Pierre being chosen for a federal Indian school [Federal Writer’s Project, The WPA Guide to South Dakota (1937), accessed on Google Books].  In 1911, Burke was an organizer of President Taft’s visit to Pierre, and the president stayed at Burke’s residence [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 166-168].  Between 1927 and 1941, the house was converted into apartments and was demolished in 1969 [Sanborn Maps, 1927 and 1941; SDSHS Archive staff].

From the South Dakota State Archives, different views: photo 1; photo 2 (at the time of President Taft’s visit to Pierre); photo 3; photograph of President Taft and his entourage leaving the Burke house.

The Charles Levit Hyde mansion was located on North Grand Ave.  Hyde was a developer who also initiated the construction of several commercial buildings on Upper Pierre Street across from the county courthouse, including the Grand Opera House and the Crystal Movie Theater [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 194].  He also built the St. Charles Hotel on the next block closer to the state capitol building.  In 1927, Hyde donated his house to the Northern Bible College, which was a UCC institution to train pastors and missionaries [Schuler, Pierre since 1910, 231].  The Hyde House was demolished c.1960 [SDSHS Archive staff].  From the South Dakota State Archives, photograph of the Hyde house in an album.


The Hughes County Regional Jail was a two-story brick building with projecting arched windows, located behind the courthouse.  It was designed by Gary Evan Michael Galyardt in 1968 and built to replace the jail space that had been used on the top floor of the courthouse building [1970 AIA Directory].  The jail was demolished 2014.

From the South Dakota State Archives, a photograph of the jail from the south; a detail photograph of the windows, showing bars on lower level.

The City Auditorium and National Guard Armory was built through a project of the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) in cooperation with the local American Legion and the South Dakota National Guard.  It was built behind the existing 1918 city building, which housed the city power house, city hall, the police station, and, in 1941, offices for the WPA [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1941].  The auditorium opened in 1936.  The concrete building had a stucco finish and large wooden (or steel [Sanborn maps]) trusses that carried the arched roof over the gymnasium.  It was used for sporting events, club meetings, theater and music productions, farm shows, inaugural balls, community events and parties, and the food pantry (starting in 1992).  The basement housed an archery range.  With deferred maintenance causing structural concerns, the auditorium closed in 2011 and was demolished by the city in 2014 [KELO media, April 30, 2011; Capital Journal (Pierre SD), March 31, 2014].  The current South Dakota National Guard Museum is a contemporaneous building that is still standing across the intersection of Dakota and Chappelle Streets.

From the South Dakota State Archives, photograph from 1990 of the auditorium.

Photo: South Dakota State Historical Society (SHPO), January 2014.

The first McKinley School was built in 1910 [Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1941].  It was a two-and-a-half story brick building with a projecting central bay and a flared hip roof.  In the postwar period, the second McKinley School was built on the same site on E. Dakota Ave. east of Crow St. in 1948.  It was a large one-story building and was expanded in 1960.  It was demolished after being purchased by Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in 2016.

Photo: South Dakota State Historical Society (SHPO), August 16, 2016.

From the South Dakota State Archives, tinted photograph of the first McKinley School; a high resolution photograph of the first school; an early view of the first school with new landscaping; a 1991 photograph of the second school.


  • Cerney, Janice Brozik. Pierre and Fort Pierre. Charleston, SC: Acadia Publishing Co., 2006.  Accessed preview on Google Books.
  • Kingsbury, George W. History of Dakota Territory, vols. 1-5. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1915. [On Internet Archive: Vol. 1, Vol. 3, Vol. 5; all on Google Books too]
  • Popp, Richard L. South Dakota, 1900-1930 in Vintage Postcards. 2001. [preview on Google Books]
  • Schuler, Harold H. Pierre since 1910. Freeman, SD: Pine Hill Press, Inc., 1998.

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