Places of Care and Science: Hospital Buildings in South Dakota

I recently ran a search for South Dakota hospitals that have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places for a Facebook post for our office (below), which led me to wonder about what historic photographs of hospitals are in the SD Digital Archives, and what they tell me about that slice of our built history.


The earliest hospitals in the territory were built with early military installations.  Once permanent settlement started, many of the early local hospitals were operated in conjunction with doctor’s clinics and often housed in buildings that were large houses in appearance.  In days before strict regulations, community health care was also undertaken by pharmacists, osteopaths, homeopaths, and others.  The Yankton State Hospital for mental health care was one of the earliest public institutions, followed by the state and federal veteran’s hospitals in Hot Springs and the state tuberculosis sanitarium in Custer.  As the profession changed near the turn-of-the-century, larger specialized buildings were erected, looking similar in style to the consolidated schools that were built at the same time.  In the 1910s-1930s, even larger facilities were built with wings for different care specialties.

Hospital at Fort Sisseton

The 1865 hospital at Fort Sisseton is a two-story square brick building with a pyramidal roof.

Fort Sully Hospital

The 1866 hospital at Fort Sully was a two-and-a-half story, wood-frame building with a front porch, lapped and shingle siding, gambrel roof, and hip roof dormers.  The fort closed in 1894 and the building was moved to an area ranch in 1898 [Mrs. E. L.
Thompson, “75 Years of Sully County History, 1883-1958,” p298-318].

Homestake Hospital, Lead

The first hospital for the Homestake mine was a small log/wood-frame building.

St. Mary’s Hospital, Pierre

St. Mary’s Hospital was originally founded in 1899 by the Benedictine Sisters when the church bought the former Park Hotel. [Janice Brozik Cerney, Pierre and Fort Pierre (Charleston, SC: Acadia Publishing Co., 2006), 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].  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 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, Pierre and Fort Pierre , 100; Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (May 1941), sheet 6].  The old building was demolished in 1952 and replaced with a new nursing care facility designed by Mitchell architect Warren A. Dixon [Richard L. Popp, South Dakota, 1900-1930 in Vintage Postcards (2001), 57; online obituary, Bittner Funeral Chapel]. See also, my earlier post: In Memorium, City Edition: Pierre

Providence Hospital, Faulkton / Faulk County Memorial Hospital

The Providence Hospital opened in Faulkton in 1917 under the direction of the Dr. Abbie Ann Jarvis.  Jarvis was the first woman to be licensed as a pharmacist in South Dakota in 1895 and the first licensed as a physician in 1898 [“History,” Faulkton Area Medical Center].  The original hospital had the form of a large Queen Anne style Victorian house, with a rubblestone-faced ground level and a octagonal turret.  The hospital built a new facility in 1949-1951, which was expanded in 1966-1968.  A new attached clinic was built in 1992, and a whole new hospital facility was built in 2006-2007 on the southwest edge of Faulkton [“History,” Faulkton Area Medical Center].

More about Jarvis:  “A Lifetime of Caring and Sharing,” February 2015, SD Historical Society Foundation.

Peabody Hospital, Webster

The Peabody Hospital in Webster was operated from a two-and-a-half story Colonial Revival style house building with a full-width front porch.  In 1913, contract firm Carlson & Hasslen built Peabody an eighteen-room hospital on Main Street [The Construction News 35 (June 7, 1913), 38].  The 1909 Williams House at 1009 Main St was purchased for use as a nurse’s home [state survey record].

Dr. Bostrom Hospital, DeSmet

Dr. Bostrom’s hospital in DeSmet was established in the former residence of L.E. Sasse in the 1910s, but was short-lived and the building became an apartment building.

Ipswich Community Hospital

The Ipswich Community Hospital took over the grand Colonial-Revival style Marcus Beebe House in 1946 until 1965 [state survey record].

St. Luke’s Hospital, Aberdeen

The first St. Luke’s Hospital building was built in 1901 from a design by E.J. Donohue, an architect from St. Paul MN.  The building was brick with trim of Kasota stone [Stone 22 (March 1901), 278; Improvement Bulletin 23 (March 16, 1901), 13].  The four-story building had a hip roof, central cupola, roof dormers, and several multi-level porches centered on different elevations.  The hospital was started by the Presentation Sisters who had their convent in Aberdeen.  The hospital had a 50×60 ft. addition along Fourth St. in 1907, a new wing in 1913 designed by Christopher Boehme [The Construction News, v.36, (October 25, 1913), 29], and a new nurse’s home addition in 1916.  In 1914, a 69-acre St. Isidore’s farm was established to provide food for patients [History of the Presentation Sisters in Dakota Territory].  A four-story addition in 1919 was designed by Holmes & Flinn with George C. Hagel [sic – Hugill?] [The American Contractor 40 (May 3, 1919), 93; The American Contractor 40 (April 24, 1919), 82].  The new six-story, U-shaped St. Luke’s hospital was built with fireproof construction methods in 1924-1926 [History of the Presentation Sisters in Dakota Territory].

In 1940-1941, the Lincoln Hospital building was moved to serve as an annex for St. Luke’s hospital by the Crowe Company of St. Paul MN; a bridge over the street now connects the buildings [Lincoln Hospital and Aberdeen Clinic, Then & Now, Aberdeen Area History; Crowe Construction Management  history website].

Bartron Hospital, Watertown

Bartron Hospital was built in 1911, with additions or new buildings in 1914 and 1916.  It was designed by Watertown architects Ursa Freed Assoc. with Maurice Hockman.

Luther Hospital, Watertown

The Luther Hospital in Watertown was a four-story brick building with a hip roof, roof dormers, cupola, and a three-story porch (with the top two levels enclosed).  In 1913, Watertown architect Maurice A. Hockman designed a hospital for the Lutheran church [The Construction News, v.36, (October 18, 1913), 35], but state survey records indicate that the hospital had its first building in 1901.  The name was changed to Memorial Hospital in 1951.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Hot Springs

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was built for the Benedictine Sisters in 1902 using sandstone from the Burke quarries.  It was three stories and designed by Deadwood architect Otho C. Jewett [Northwestern Lancet 21 (May 15, 1901), 225; Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD), March 29, 1901; Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), January 24, 1902]

State Soldiers Home, Hot Springs

The hospital at the State Soldiers Home had multi-colored stone walls with quoins at the corners, a hip roof and a central recessed two-story porch.

Battle Mountain Sanitarium, Hot Springs

The federal veteran’s hospital in Hot Springs was designed by Thomas R. Kimball (1891-1934) and built from 1902 to 1907.  A designated hospital building was erected in 1926 with several additions [state survey record].

Images in the newspaper:

St. Joseph Hospital, Mitchell

The first St. Joseph Hospital in Mitchell was founded by the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen in 1905, and the first building was completed in 1906 [History of the Presentation Sisters in Dakota Territory].  Contractor/architect Rasmus K. Hafsos of Canton/Aberdeen designed a hospital in Mitchell in 1905 [Dakota Farmers’ Leader (Canton SD), December 15, 1905].  The three-story brick building had a hip roof, roof dormers, a skylight on one side (probably for the operating theater), an entrance porch, and three-story side porches.  A new 1920-1921 hospital building was designed by Edwin H. Lundie with St. Paul architectural firm Slifer, Lundie, & Abrahamson [The American Contractor, v.42 (May 21, 1921), 77], or with George C. Hugill [The American Contractor, v.41 (January 24, 1920), 58].


St. Joseph’s Hospital Mitchell SD, #2014-12-31-340, SDSHS

Madison Hospital

Madison Community Hospital was built in 1920 and designed by Sioux Falls architect Perkins & McWayne [The American Contractor 40 (March 1, 1919), 82B; The American Contractor 40 (September 20, 1919), 60E].  The three story brick building had a low parapet roof, slightly-projecting entrance, and a ground-floor garage on one end (for ambulances?).  A new hospital was built in 1962 and the old building was bought by Dakota State University in 1966 and became Heston Hall for administrative offices and a computer center in 1970 [c1936 photograph, Dakota State University. Karl E. Mundt Library].

St. Bernard’s Hospital, Milbank

The hospital in Milbank was three-stories, brick with corbelled dentils and a flat roof, and had an entrance porch and enclosed side porches.

Yankton State Hospital

The state mental health hospital was first established in Yankton in 1879.  The first main building and early wings/buildings in the 1880s and 1890s were designed by architect Wallace L. Dow.  After a 1899 fire, the state invested in constructing substantial masonry buildings.  “In 1918, the name of the hospital was officially changed from Dakota Hospital for the Insane to the Yankton State Hospital…. On July 1, 1974, the name of the facility was changed from Yankton State Hospital to the South Dakota Human Services Center.”  [HSC History, SD Department of Social Services]  The facility had a wide variety of buildings including residential wards, hospitals, administration, chapel, barns, and more.  A new facility was built in 1994 in lots to the north, and many historic buildings were left vacant until demolished in 2013.

The Mead Building (women’s building) is currently being rehabilitated after some years of vacancy by the Yankton County Historical Society for the Mead Cultural Education Center, learn about the project here.

Hiawatha Indian Asylum, Canton

In 1898, the U.S. Congress passed a law creating a segregated asylum for native “inmates.”  The Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians was opened in 1902.  More than 350 native persons from fifty tribes across the country were institutionalized there.  In 1933, the new Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier, finally addressed the lingering controversies surrounding the Canton asylum. After closure, the state used the facility but turned it over to the city in 1946.  Most buildings were dismantled, and in the 1950s, the Hiawatha municipal golf course was built at the site.  See also, my earlier post: Grant Them Rest: The Canton Asylum.

Northern Hospital, Redfield

An early postcard shows one of the first stone buildings being Romanesque (maybe with some Chateauesque), with a tall, square center tower, parapet gables, and a front porch.  The Northern Hospital for the Insane opened in 1902.  “In 1913, the name was changed to State School and Home for the Feeble Minded.  It became known as The Redfield State Hospital and School in 1951, and in 1989 we took our current name [the South Dakota Developmental Center.”  The first hospital on the campus was built in 1912-1914, and the second in 1926 [state survey records].  In 1963, “there were 11 large buildings on campus used for housing.” [“The History of SDDC,” SD Department of Human Services].

St. Joseph Hospital, Deadwood

St. Joseph Hospital was first opened in 1897 by the Benedictine Sisters in a remodeled building [Kaija Swisher, “The first school of nursing in S.D. (part 1),” Black Hills Pioneer (Deadwood SD), May 8, 2015].  They added a third floor in 1904 and a fourth floor in 1917.  Reportedly, the first nursing school in South Dakota, a three-year course, was established at St. Joseph’s in 1905 [Swisher, “The first school of nursing in S.D. (part 2),” Black Hills Pioneer (Deadwood SD), May 15, 2015].  In 1910, the hospital built on at 61 Charles Street from a design by The Black Hills Co.  The brick building had arched window lintels with keystones, a Celtic cross on the roof, and the addition portion had jack lintels, a two-story veranda, and roof dormers.

Methodist Episcopal State Hospital, Mitchell

The Methodist hospital in Mitchell was three stories, brick, had side parapet gables, hip tile roof, a brick entrance porch, and a one-story enclosed porch on the side.  It was designed by Sioux Falls architect John C. Chapman [The American Contractor 37 (October 28, 1916), 88; The American Contractor 40 (September 20, 1919), 60E].  Local architects Kings & Dixon designed a multi-story addition in 1922 [The American Contractor, v.43 (December 23, 1922), 61A; The Modern Hospital 19 (November 1922), 86].

John Burns Memorial Hospital, Belle Fourche

The hospital was a three-story brick building with a projected entrance.

Dr. Lowe Hospital, Mobridge

The Lowe Hospital was a two-story brick building with a flat roof and projected entrance.

Mobridge Hospital

The building was two-and-a-half stories with a gable roof, roof dormers, and side porches.

Dakota Hospital, Vermillion

The Dakota Hospital Association was incorporated in 1930.  In 1931, the board hired Sioux City architectural firm Beuttler and Arnold to develop a grand design for the building.  A Public Works Administration grant was secured in 1934 to help fund the construction, which took place during 1934-1935.  The Dakota Hospital was a three-story Art Deco/Moderne brick building with a central entrance, but was substantially simplified from the first published architectural rendering.  [Evelyn H. Schlenker, The Dakota Hospital Association… 2017].

Holy Infant Hospital, Hoven

The drawing on the postcard of the hospital shows a relatively large Art Deco building, three-stories with vertical columns of windows.

Hospital at Flandreau Indian School / Wayazanka Tipi

Yankton Indian Hospital, Wagner

The tribal hospital at Wagner was one-story with a flat roof.

Winner General Hospital / Rosebud Community Hospital

In 1950, a new Rosebud Community Hospital was built.  It was a two-story brick building with a flat roof and corner windows, in a Moderne architectural style.

McKennan Hospital, Sioux Falls

The historic hospital was four-and-a-half stories with a classical entry portico and two-story porches on either side elevation, and was expanded to two angled wings from a central point.  The original 1910 building was designed by Sioux Falls architect Joseph Schwarz [The American Contractor 31 (August 20, 1910), 30].  The addition was designed by Holmes & Flinn (Chicago) and supervised by George C. Hugill [The American Contractor 39 (June 15, 1918), 64E].

Mellette County Red Cross Hospital, White River

The two-story wood-frame building had a gable roof and open front entrance porch.

Sacred Heart Hospital, Yankton

The nursing school at Sacred Heart Hospital was opened in 1905; it was later folded into the Mount Marty College offerings in 1964 [“Important Dates in MMC History,” Mount Marty College website].

The design for a new facility for the Catholic hospital was from architectural firm, Hartford & Jacobson of St. Paul MN, and built in 1912-1915 by Goetz Construction Co. of Yankton [Grow, Kathy K. and Lois H. Varvel. Yankton, South Dakota in Vintage Postcards. Charleston SC: Arcadia, p64; The Construction News, v.36, (November 1, 1913), 30; The American Contractor 35 (June 13, 1914), 77].  The five-story hospital had two parapet gables, and the top window were arched.  Only the center and one wing were originally completed.  The second wing was built from 1926-1928 under the direction of architect William L. Steele [D. Murphy, “William LaBarthe Steele (1875-1949), Architect,” in David Murphy, Edward F. Zimmer, and Lynn Meyer, comps. Place Makers of Nebraska: The Architects (Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, May 8, 2017), E-Nebraska History].  When the final wing was built, the design of that wing changed slightly so they’re not identical, but the second wing has a flatter roof.

The hospital finished a new building in 1981 [“Important Dates in MMC History,” Mount Marty College website].

State Tuberculosis Hospital, Custer

The main building of the tuberculosis hospital was two-stories masonry, with two parapet gables on the ends, with covered connections to adjoining buildings in the hospital complex.

Nichols Sanitarium / Lutheran Hospital, Hot Springs

Perry Nichols established his cancer treatment center in 1917.  It later became the Lutheran Hospital [“Our History,” Fall River Health Services website].   The large hilltop stone building had three stories, a small section of two-story open porches that were later expanded into large wrap-around porches, and a castellated cornice with round turrets at the corners.  The building is still extant, but has been vacant.

Methodist Deaconess Hospital, Rapid City

The 1923 Methodist Deaconess Hospital has a flat roof, brick walls, and once had a wrap-around one-story porch.  A 1911 house was incorporated as a nurse’s home for the hospital.

St. John McNamara Hospital, Rapid City

The five-story brick hospital was built at 1014 11th.  It was designed by J.H. Wheeler, an Irish immigrant from St. Paul, Minnesota, and built by Henry Carlson Construction Co. of Sioux Falls [West Boulevard Historic District, Rapid City, National Register of Historic Places nomination].  With additions, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Britton Hospital & Clinic

The 1928 hospital in Britton had a three-story brick building with a parapet gable roof and a projecting entrance with Tudor arches.  It was possibly designed by George F. Fossum [the SD State Historic Preservation Office files indicate that he designed a Marshall County Hospital in Britton in 1929].

Royal C. Johnson Veterans Memorial Hospital, Sioux Falls

The buildings at the VA hospital in Sioux Falls started with the 1929 Catholic college, which was bought by the federal government and expanded with the 1946-1949 hospital building designed by Harold Spitznagel and built by Henry Carlson Co. (Sioux Falls) and Lovering Construction Co. (St. Paul).  The hospital complex has had major additions over the years.

Community Hospital, Gregory

In 1950, a hospital was built at 400 Park Avenue in Gregory that was designed in a Modern architectural style.  The entrance had a flat roof, angled walls to the canopy, and windows with horizontal sash divisions.

Community Memorial Hospital, Redfield

Watson Clinic, Brookings

The Watson Clinic was a two-story brick building with a flat roof and a simple entrance surround.

Geddes Hospital

The Geddes Hospital was operated in the former Padley Hotel.  The building was a three-story structure, with full-width porches across the facade–open on the first floor and enclosed on the second and third floors–and arched windows.

Sanitarium / Community Valley Hospital, Chamberlain

The first Sanitarium in Chamberlain was three-stories, wood-frame with three levels of open porches on one end, and a mansard roof with dormers.  The 1950 Community Valley Hospital in Chamberlain was built as a one-story brick building, with a projecting entrance that had a half porch and large multi-pane picture window.

Bennett-Clarkson Memorial Hospital, Rapid City

The three-story brick building had a concrete base, bands of windows, and a central projection with narrow brick pilasters.  It was built in 1954 [state survey records].

Hospital / Brookings Municipal Hospital, Brookings

And though the State Archives didn’t have historic images of the hospital in Brookings, there were images of it in the Digital Library collection from the state universities.

Other links of interest:

There are a lot of interesting facts from 125 Years of Health in South Dakota – Milestones [Doneen Hollingsworth, SD Department of Health, 2014]–the site also has a lot of interesting photographs from the State Historical Society and the University of South Dakota archives, and a page for histories of prominent individuals.

Evelyn Peterson DNSc, RN, History of the South Dakota Nurses Association,

Marten, James. “A Medical Entrepreneur Goes West: Father William Kroeger in South Dakota, 1893-1904.” South Dakota History 21(4) (1991), 333-361.

Includes some information on all the hospitals in Vermillion, Clay County: Evelyn H. Schlenker, The Dakota Hospital Association and the Building and Maintenance of the Dakota Hospital in Vermillion, SD. 2017.

History of the 1957 Douglas County Memorial Hospital in Armour.


Leora J. Lewis: Leading Librarian

I came across Leora Lewis’ name recently as the director of the SD Free Library Commission in the 1920s and early 1930s, a Commission that had been established in 1913.  As always, I’m curious to dig around for information about historically-significant women…  [and am inexplicably proud of the alliteration in this post title.]

Leora June Lewis was born in 1889 in Pennington County, South Dakota [1930 census; SD Birth Index].  Her parents, Clarence L. Lewis and Mary Helen Benson, were from New York and Pennsylvania respectively [Helen in 1900 census; Mary in 1910 census; 1930 census; SD Birth Index].  Clarence Lewis was an attorney [1900 census; 1910 census].  The family lived at 730 South Street in Rapid City and was relatively well-off –they had a 16-year-old Swedish girl working as a servant in 1900 [1900 census; 1910 census].

Leora Lewis’ professional career began in 1910, when she was appointed librarian at the Rapid City Free Public Library [RCPL Timeline; 1918 city directory].

The first library in town was a reading room set up in 1879 and moved to Library Hall on the corner of 6th and Kansas City Streets in 1881.  In 1903, the Rapid City Public Library became a publically-supported city institution, had its first directors appointed, Rose and Laura Bower and Lillian Nyswanger, and a reading room was set up downtown in 1904.  [“A Brief History, 1879 to the Present,” brochure from Rapid City Public Library, accessed online; “Rapid City Public Library,” South Dakota Library Bulletin 49 (1963), 62].

In 1914-1917, the Rapid City Library under Lewis’ direction erected a new building with support from the Carnegie foundation [“A Brief History, 1879 to the Present,” brochure from Rapid City Public Library, accessed online].  In her position, she would have had a key opinion in the design and layout of the building as she worked on it with the state field librarian, the local building committee, and their architect.

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New book on Early SD Churches from SDHS Press

The South Dakota Historical Society Press has volume 6 of its Historic Preservation Series coming out soon, “Early Churches in South Dakota.”  The bulk of the book was written by, and features the photography of, Robert W. Sebesta, but I was asked to write a brief introduction essay.  It’s unexpectedly kind of super exciting for me to see my name on a book for the first time… maybe someday I’ll have a book of my own…

Find more about the book and ways to pre-order before its released in August 2018, here.


Women’s Suffrage in South Dakota presentation

I recently gave a presentation on the history of women’s suffrage in South Dakota for the state meeting of the League of Women Voters.  They asked that I make the presentation material available, so here it is!

If you have questions about anything or would like me to check my notes for a source, just leave a comment.

suffrage_A Movement of Many

Snow in South Dakota, SD Digital Archives

Outside my window is a lot of snow that’s fallen in the last week, so I was curious what South Dakota State Archives’ digital archives had for the best and most interesting historic photographs of snow and snow removal in South Dakota.  There were nearly 1,600 results in a search for the word ‘snow’ (although admittedly, many are Preservation Office photographs of historic buildings that just happened to have been taken in the winter).

Snow is a big part of life on the Plains–beautiful, dangerous, and apparently a popular photography subject over the years.  I do know it generally makes for good building photographs — no leaves on nearby trees to block anything and a high contrast background.  From these historic photos, it looked like heavy snowfalls could be fun in their way, but they also required hard work and ingenuity to clear travel routes.  And of course we have our share of winter sports, especially in the recreation and ski areas of the Black Hills.

Here is a list of my favorites from the state digital archives…

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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

Early Historic Preservation in South Dakota: Introduction

Historic Preservation has a history of its own.  Some of the biggest national stories are relatively well-known to the profession: Mount Vernon, Colonial Williamsburg, Penn Station, Jane Jacobs in NYC… but to see the national story, you have to look at the whole nation, right?  So, I asked myself: What is South Dakota’s historic preservation history?


By the 1930s, the commemoration of territorial history was a major trend for civic communities around South Dakota. The year 1936 was the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Dakota Territory and the year 1939 marked the 50th anniversary of statehood.  Newspapers in the 1930s included dozens of front-page obituaries for the passing of “aged pioneers,” and many communities initiated projects to preserve or commemorate their memories.  On August 30, 1939, the town of Vermillion held Territorial Pioneer Day, with a public program and exhibits at the Clay County Fair, in order to honor the surviving territorial residents and their history.  South Dakota was in line with national trends in this era, and historians have suggested that the “increasingly widespread concern for recovering and exhibiting vestiges of America’s supposedly ‘vanishing’ history” in the 1930s was a reaction to American modern industrialization and malaise about the pace of technological innovation; an effort to create public historical consciousness, civic identity, and social order; or an effort to create a role in the American tourist marketplace for historical restorations.  In 1935, the Historic Sites Act expanded federal protections of historic resources on private property and a substantial number of the sites preserved included those that related to the history of westward expansion.

In the 1930s, reconstruction of historic structures was a legitimate and authentic method of honoring the historic built environment.   Popular American projects in the 1930s like John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s Colonial Williamsburg, Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Continue reading