Governor’s residence nominated for Places in Peril list

Governor's residence nominated for Places in Peril list The official state-owned residence for South Dakota's Governor has been nominated for the 2003 Places in Peril list of endangered historical sites and structures of importance to South Dakota.

A group of private citizens recently nominated the governor's residence because of concerns that the residence will soon be moved from its current location, which is contrary to exemplary preservation practices and would be an action without the citizens of South Dakota having been given proper due process. The nomination also expressed concerns that information had been limited about the plans for the residence, stalling preservationists from acting until it is too late.

The citizens are concerned that repair costs to the home have been over stated and preservation experienced architects and contractors have not been given an opportunity to present a proposal to rehabilitate and repair the historic structure. Volunteers for Preserve South Dakota with experience in preserving historic structures have either seen the home or viewed videos of the much publicized problems with windows, siding, electrical and plumbing systems.

Their opinion is that the problems stated by the state are routine maintenance and functional issues, which can be repaired without damaging the structurally well-built home or significant historic features, such as the fireplace.

Apparently, the main reason for building a new residence for the governor is because the current residence is too small for large public gatherings. Historically, the governor's residence was built as a private home for the governor and his/her family. The building on Capitol Lake next to the War Memorial was remodeled to serve as a reception hall. All options should be considered to satisfy the needs of future governors, while providing a safe and secure place for the governor and their family to live.

Built in the 1936 during the depression, the 5,000 square foot house has been a home for South Dakota governors for over 70 years. The home is featured on the front cover of the Pierre Historic Homes Driving Tour book. Funded with a grant from the National Park Service, the tour book was written and published by the Pierre Historic Preservation Commission.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is historically important to the nation because it is the only governor's residence in the entire United States that was built as a WPA project.

The Places in Peril program is in its sixth year of attracting attention to South Dakota's most important and loved historic places that face an immediate threat of destruction. This threat can be in many different ways � such as urban sprawl, neglect from its owners, apathy of community leaders, lack of financial support or the weather. The list draws attention to the great loss to our society if we lose our tangible heritage.

The purpose of the Places in Peril list is to alert the citizens of South Dakota who can make a difference, and, with that difference, avert the loss of South Dakota's irreplaceable historic resources. South Dakota's Places in Peril nominations are accepted year around. Deadline for the 2003 Places in Peril final list is Sept. 15. Nominations received after that date would be considered for the next year. The final 2003 list will be announced in November. To nominate endangered historic buildings or sites, write to Preserve South Dakota at P.O. Box 113, Pierre, SD 57501, call (605) 945-0409 or visit

Established in 1978, Preserve South Dakota is a private, statewide non-profit organization. Working with members, local preservation groups, the state of South Dakota and various national preservation groups, Preserve South Dakota encourages, advocates and facilitates preservation of historic sites and structures of importance to South Dakota.

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