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December 2011-South Dakota Made

The building that houses South Dakota government should be constructed of stone from South Dakota.

So believed some South Dakota residents.

The commission overseeing the construction of South Dakota’s Capitol had set up a low-bid process that gave no advantage to in-state bidders or materials. On the day bids were scheduled to be opened in 1906, the South Dakota Supreme Court halted proceedings. A complaint had been received from Sioux Falls Board of Trade, acting in support of local quartzite quarries.

The state Supreme Court did rule in favor of the commission. The commission decided, though, that new legislation was needed to prevent future incidents. The 1907 Legislature passed a bill providing that all materials to be used in the construction of the capitol “shall be procured in the state of South Dakota … at a cost not exceeding 5 per cent more than the lowest amount for which material equally good could be procured elsewhere.”

General contractor O.H. Olsen was unable to procure the Sioux quartzite stone from East Sioux Falls that he had planned to use for the exterior of the first floor. The base of the Capitol is Ortonville granite from Minnesota. The first-floor exterior walls are of Marquette Raindrop sandstone from Michigan, and the second-and third-floor exterior walls and the lower rotunda are of Bedford limestone from Indiana.

The only South Dakota stone used in the capitol would be the field boulders used in the foundation.

This moment in South Dakota history is provided by the South Dakota Heritage Fund, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society. Find us on the web at