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! Continue reading

South Dakota Architects – Alber, Albright, and Bartlett

I love historic places and I love pulling out details of the history of these places.  Contributing to this quirk (obsession) is my affinity for finding information and organizing it, in hopes that I or others may find the information useful when undertaking higher-level analysis.  I’ve demonstrated this in previous posts, and I would call out a few examples here, but it’s actually quite apparent in most of them…

Because I love historic places, information on their architects has been one of my obsessive projects.  This post will start a series on architects (and some significant 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!

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A Day of History in Brookings

I spent this past Thursday participating in this year’s state competition for National History Day.  I never competed as a student and this was my first year helping as an adult.  Like a Science Fair, National History Day is a chance for teacher-guided but student-directed research into a topic of history and the presentation of that history.  Students have to tie the topic they choose to a theme and their product, whether an ‘exhibit,’ a paper, a performance, a documentary, or a website, has to stay within certain parameters.  It’s a test in research, finding a compelling historical question and thesis, and communicating your knowledge.

Open to junior and senior categories, grades 6 to 8 and 9 to 12, I see how this must be a big thing to learn for the junior category especially.  I know that for me, history was stories and facts to learn for the tests for most of my school career.  I remember finding different histories interesting in school and out of school, but not any more than I found science, math, or grammar interesting.  I cannot for the life of me recall a history research project I did before 11th grade that wasn’t about international holiday traditions (that 3rd grade diorama of a Norwegian Christmas did stick with me).  I loved reading and I recall doing extensive research into my favorite topic — geology — as an elementary student, but I didn’t glimpse the interesting possibilities of historical research until late in high school, and it wasn’t until college that I realized how to compose a compelling historical question and get research done effectively.  In grad school, I stretched into historiography and using theory in historical analysis.  I’m still practicing how to communicate effectively.

When I first looked at some of the student projects at National History Day, I was seeing with professional eyes and, while it sounds terribly obvious and unfair, all of them fell short.  Once the demographics of age, experience, and access to research material for the students and the constraints of the competition sunk into my brain, I was massively impressed with how close several of the projects really did come to asking interesting questions and finding interesting answers.

It was a pretty wonderful day.  I learned from future colleagues’ research (one hopes that some will become historians) and mused over what makes for ‘good’ history work.  I shared the day’s tasks with college students and other professionals who I did not know at all, but who felt like colleagues in short time.  I reflected on my life and on my chosen profession.  And then, because I had never walked around South Dakota State University before, I went on a short, windy, and cold  tour to do a little architecture-gazing…

SDSUcollage

Photographs by the author, April 2016.

Modern and More in Milbank

I got to see a new-to-me town last month when I ventured into Milbank while staying at the former Blue Cloud Abbey.  Milbank was established when the Milwaukee Road RR came through in 1880, and was named for Jeremiah Milbank, one of the railroad’s directors.  When the railroad set up division headquarters there, many Irish and Dutch came to the area to work for the railroad.  A major industry has also been the Dakota Granite Quarry, which produced Milbank granite commonly used for gravestones but also building material [WPA Guide to South Dakota, 193].

With even a brief trip, the range of notable architectural style made an impression.  Downtown, there was the post office, library/museum, and theater.  On the east end of town, there was the hotel, grist mill, and the Milbank Mutual Insurance building.  All photos by author.

Milbank Mutual Insurance Company

Milbank Mutual Insurance Company

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A Visit to Christ the King Catholic Church

Christ the King Catholic Church, July 26, 2015, photograph by author.

Christ the King Catholic Church, July 26, 2015, photograph by author.

On the way home from the Abbey of the Hills, I stopped through Webster, South Dakota because a friend recommended a visit to the round church there.  It wasn’t too hard to spot the steeple as I drove into downtown from Highway 12 and it was worth it.

The Christ the King Catholic Church was dedicated in December 1966 and designed by Ralph R. Koch with Koch, Hazard, & Associates of Sioux Falls [in the AIA Directory for 1970 online].  The priest at the time, Father Mardian, and the building committee oversaw the construction.  According to the church’s Centennial Directory in 1984, the design was chosen to draw eyes towards the altar and to reflect the tents of the Old Testament, which were places to encounter God.

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