Early Historic Preservation in South Dakota: The Phillips House

Other early efforts to preserve historic properties were not successful, but raised public awareness of the potential for loss of historic community assets.  One of the grand early houses in Sioux Falls was lost in 1966.  The Phillips House was finished in 1884 on a large lot along Covell Lake owned Josiah L. and Hattie Phillips.  Josiah died in 1882, and Hattie finished the house, raised their seven children there, and became a “matron” of Sioux Falls involved in several business, social, and charitable efforts in the community.  The house grounds had landscaped gardens and orchards. Continue reading


What I’m Reading 6

A few things I’ve read worth sharing–

John Morrell’s Bloody Friday” by Scott Stoel for South Dakota Magazine (as revised from the January/February 1995 issue):  On a conflict between union and non-union workers at the Sioux Falls meat-packing plant during their second strike of 1935.

A Visitor’s Observations on the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Part II“, by Will Walker for History@Work from the National Council on Public History:  A quote–“Although much of the press about the museum has focused on showpieces like the guard tower from Angola Prison and the Jim Crow railroad car, it was the cumulative effect of so many stories told through individual objects that had the greatest impact on me. Through five floors of jam-packed exhibitions, I continually found delightful, fascinating, and occasionally heart-wrenching objects, as well as the ideas, stories, and movements behind them.”  Walker also shares the awesome quotes from Ida B. Wells and James Baldwin that the museum has on display to highlight their mission.

Looking Around: Horizontal Space” by Kate Wagner on the website McMansion Hell: The website “roasts the world’s ugliest houses from top to bottom” but also has fantastic posts about architectural history, like this one about how we built things in the mid/late-20th century.

South Dakota Architects – W.F. Blatherwick, C.V. Booth, R.H. Booth

W.F. Blatherwick

Wilfred Francis Blatherwick was born in 1890 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Wilfred F. Blatherwick and Mary Reckner.  In 1913, he graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Illinois.  He did training as a draftsman in Vincennes, Indiana, and worked for a firm called Bausmith & Draine in Cincinnati in 1915.   Between 1918 and 1921, he moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Before forming his first firm with George C. Hugill, W.F. Blatherwick worked as head draftsman and designer for prominent architectural firm of Perkins & McWayne.  Hugill & Blatherwick formed their firm in 1921 and set up offices in the Boyce-Greeley Building in downtown Sioux Falls.  Continue reading

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


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.


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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