Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias My wife�s aunt � a South Dakotan who has lived out in North Carolina for over two decades now, and her husband recently traveled to Utah on business.

On their way back to visit the South Dakota clan, they drove east, through Montana and into our state, stopping in Pierre to tour the capitol building and its grounds.

The couple all over the country. And they, in fact, live in Raliegh, North Carolina�s capital.

That city�s capitol building, however, doesn�t hold a candle to ours, according to Cindy�s aunt. �South Dakota has to have the most beautiful capitol building in the country,� she said.

The Mitchell Daily Republic noted in a recent editorial that we re-printed three weeks ago that yes, our capitol is, in a word, spectacular.

It underwent a thorough restoration that started in 1977 and was completed in time for the state Centennial in 1989. Contrast all of that with the Governor�s Mansion. Though situated in a beautiful setting near the Capitol and the Capitol Lake, it is anything but spectacular.

Built in 1936, the one-story structure offers none of the sweeping architectural lines that characterize governors� �mansions� in some other states.

While modestly appealing from the outside, hardly anyone would describe it as striking or compelling.

Yet, it is what it is, and it does own a share of history. Every governor since 1936 has called it home � except for present Gov. Mike Rounds, who recently had to move his family out of the mansion because of plumbing and electrical problems.

That�s an embarrassment and a disgrace, wrote the Daily Republic. We have to agree.

The present home can trace its modest state to being built in the Depression as a WPA project. But there�s no reason it should be limited by that humble beginning. A task force is being formed by Gov. Rounds to see what is needed to bring the home up to snuff, and make recommendations on how to pay for it.

Another historical residence that�s seen better days is Woodbine Cottage in Brookings. Exterior maintenance and renovations are needed on the building, which has served as the traditional home of South Dakota State University presidents, with some occasional breaks in tenancy, since 1903.

But how to do the work has become a relevant issue. The Queen Anne Revival Style house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the South Dakota Register of Historic Places.

And when work is done on listed historic properties that are government-owned, they may be removed from the historic register if the work is not done following guidelines of the Department of the Interior administered through the National Park Service.

The Woodbine Cottage work described in a �Preliminary Case Report� sent from the SDSU Physical Plant to the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre, and to the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission calls for replacement of windows and siding using modern materials that would almost certainly result in the loss of the house�s historic status.

Doing the renovation in a way that ensures the house keeps its historical integrity would likely be more costly. But SDSU has raised funds from a variety of private and public sources for other building projects considered vital to the university and could do so again for Woodbine Cottage, notes the Brookings Register.

We�d like to see the Governor�s Mansion improved. And we see the preservation of Woodbine Cottage�s historic status as vital to SDSU, Brookings, South Dakota, and the nation.

One of Rounds� suggestions for the Governor�s Mansion is to raise money from the private sector. There may be those who wish to contribute to such a fund, but we believe it is the state�s obligation to pay for whatever the Governor�s Mansion requires, and at this stage, the requirements for updating and perhaps expanding are many.

There is a funding source that we believe deserves attention. In the fall of 2000, a majority of South Dakotans agreed that Deadwood should be able to increase the betting limits in its casinos from $5 to $100.

That city has reaped the awards (and related-ills) of gambling since 1988. The bet increase includes putting some of the extra funding raised in Deadwood in a fund to benefit all of South Dakota.

Last year, 22 historic preservation projects in 16 South Dakota cities received matching grants from the South Dakota State Historical Society.

The grants, totaling $229,065, were awarded through the State Historical Society�s Deadwood Fund grant program, managed by the State Historic Preservation Office. The grant program is designed to encourage large-scale restoration or rehabilitation of historic properties and help ensure that the irreplaceable history of these structures is kept alive. Each grant is matched with funding from private and other sources.

Funding for the program is from Deadwood gaming revenue earmarked by state law for historic preservation projects throughout the state. In six years, the program has provided grants totaling $793,500.

We�re grateful the money is available. But approximately $800,000 in a six year period seems to be, well, rather paltry.

We can�t help but wonder if there should be a closer look at the Deadwood fund. It seems to be the perfect revenue source to help improve such historical structures as the Governor�s Mansion and Woodbine Cottage.

For larger, more challenging projects, we believe there should be a greater sharing of the Deadwood fund�s wealth.

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