Old Main, Baptist church architect featured in South Dakota Magazine The man who brought South Dakota into the stone age is featured in the March/April issue of South Dakota Magazine. Wallace Dow, the architect who designed the original Lincoln School in Sioux Falls, the old Minnehaha County Courthouse, Old Main at The University of South Dakota and many other magnificent buildings that still inspire after more than a century is the subject of Lance Nixon's story "Poetry in Stone."
Nixon recalls writer David Erpestad's theory about Dow's work; it starts with a family picnic at the falls of the Big Sioux River. The son of a New Hampshire carpenter, Wallace Dow is watching his children leap like goats across the pink rocks. But he's also imagining stacking them to the sky to build some of the grandest buildings of statehood days. It's not surprising that Dow, who specialized in the region's native stone, centered his practice around Sioux Falls, where Sioux quartzite was readily quarried.
During the 1880s, Nixon notes, Dow's work helped shape government and make education, commerce and worship possible. Among the architect's other renowned stone buildings are Vermillion's First Baptist Church; the Granite Block in Watertown; the old Opera House in Dell Rapids; the Carnegie Library in Yankton, General Beadle Hall at Dakota State University in Madison and the Lincoln County Courthouse in Canton.
Donald and Hazel Gilbert, Dow's grandchildren who now live in Sioux Falls, grew up in Minnesota, unaware of their grandfather's contributions. "He didn't have to have status," said Donald's wife, Lois. "I'm sure he was just a humble man."