Public Art in South Dakota

“Dignity,” by Dale Lamphere, photograph by author, 2016.

The new 50-foot “Dignity” sculpture, by sculptor Dale Lamphere and chief welder Tom Trople, installed at a point above the highway at Chamberlain has me thinking about South Dakota’s public art and the history thereof.  So here’s some that I can think of… suggestions and additions are very welcome!


Mount Rushmore National Memorial: Most assuredly the best known work of public art in South Dakota.  The memorial was designed by Gutzon Borglum and built from 1927-1941.  The original idea for a memorial was actually from Doane Robinson, state historian, who proposed carving historical figures of the American West into the Continue reading

Norwegian Heritage in South Dakota

Like elsewhere in the Upper Midwest, a lot of Norwegians came to South Dakota as immigrants and have left their mark on its history.  There are therefore several places to learn about that history around the state, and here are a few highlights to which I’ll hopefully be able to add over time.  Please feel welcome to add comments about other sites that people should check out.

Nordland Heritage Park, Sioux Falls

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Chandelier at Beaver Creek Lutheran Church. Photo by author.

The Nordland Heritage Foundation’s park is on 33rd south of Bergsaker Hall at Augustana College (now University I guess…).  The park includes the Beaver Creek Lutheran Church, the Eggers School, the Berdahl-Rolvaag House, and the Rolvaag Writing Cabin.  More on the history of the buildings is posted to their website, here.  This site is particularly interesting because of the connections between the house and cabin to O.E. Rolvaag, a Norwegian immigrant who made his name as the author of the 1927 novel Giants in the Earth about the immigrant experience on the prairie–it’s a haunting book, not a beach read but quality work.  It was the first in a trilogy and he wrote several more, link to Wikipedia bio here.

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South Dakota Architects – Becklin, Benson, and Bentzinger

This post is the second 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!


Hans Becklin

Hans Becklin was a stone/brick mason in Vermillion who worked on the foundation of the E.H. Willey House and the First Baptist Church there.  Becklin was born in about 1846/1848 in Sweden and emigrated to the U.S. in about 1868.  In the 1880 census, he was recorded as a farmer living with his mother Lisa in rural Clay County (T94N, R51W).  He married in about 1885.  He was recorded as a brick mason in the census lists for 1900 and 1910.

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E.H. Willey House, Vermillion, Clay County, South Dakota

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Profile of a Scholar: Gertrude S. Young

Gertrude Stickney Young taught history at South Dakota State College (now University) from 1907 to 1955.  A small collection of her papers are held at the H.M. Briggs Library at SDSU, link to their site here (also has a photo posted).

It has been a rewarding life, certainly not a dramatic one — this one of teaching for four decades, this one of attempting to point out helpful patterns for working in the present entanglement of world affairs to be found in a study of good and bad reactions to like problems of other peoples and places…. It has been a life of an observer, an interpreter, not a participant….

To have lived through these decades – a blessed privilege; we hope that we have not altogether abused it.

— “A Study in History for the ‘I Personally Award,'” c.1948, p43.


Background and Education

Gertrude Young was born on September 14, 1883 in Sioux Falls.  Her family had a privileged status with the resources to support her education.  Her father, Sutton Young, was the first Speaker of the House in the South Dakota legislature.  He had come to Sioux Falls in 1881 from a Yankee family in Ohio, working in law and real estate interests.  Her mother Emma Stickney Young was born in Ohio, graduated from Oberlin College in 1867, and then taught at a Freedman’s Bureau school in Mississippi for a year and in Ohio schools before marrying Young.  In Sioux Falls, Emma taught for a time at the high school there.  Mrs. Young set an example of civic engagement for Gertrude in her service to the church, charities, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the Women’s State Board of Charities and Corrections.

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Professional Women of 1909, part 7

This series has covered women who ran boarding houses, worked as hairdressers, artists, principals, dentists, doctors, and lawyers.  Here are the last three women listed in the 1909 business directory for the city of Sioux Falls.  Most research comes from census and city directory information accessed through Ancestry.com, but general online research is done too.  Sources are cited in text. Continue reading

Professional Women of 1909, Part 6

This series has covered women who ran boarding houses, worked as hairdressers, artists, principals, and lawyers.  Here are the next five women listed in the 1909 business directory for the city of Sioux Falls.  Todays list includes a dentist who attended Northwestern University, and a doctor who was arrested for manslaughter after an “illegal operation”…  Most of my information is gleaned from census and city directory information accessed through Ancestry.com, but general online research is done too.  Sources are cited in text.

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Professional Women of 1909, Part 5

Here is Part 5 of 7 of my series to see what I can find online about the histories of the women who were listed in the 1909 business directory for the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Again, this is preliminary research through online search engines and Ancestry.com, sources are cited in the text.

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