The Gregory County Courthouse in Burke was added in February to the National Register of Historic Places, the South Dakota State Historical Society has announced.
The National Register is the official federal list of properties identified as important in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. The State Historic Preservation Office of the State Historical Society works in conjunction with the National Park Service, which oversees the National Register program, to list the properties.
“South Dakota has a very rich history and culture ranging from prehistoric Indian villages to homesteader cabins, unique businesses, and richly detailed historic neighborhoods – which are all wonderful testaments to our state,” said Ted M. Spencer, State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the State Historic Preservation Office.
Buildings, sites, structures, and objects at least 50 years old possessing historical significance may qualify for the National Register, per the National Park Service guidelines. Properties must also maintain their historic location, design, materials, and association. Listing on the National Register does not place any limitations on private property owners by the federal government.
The Gregory County Courthouse was built in 1934 at 221 E. 8th St. in Burke. It was listed for its significance in the areas of politics/government and architecture. The courthouse was built in the Art Deco style with the support of the Public Works Administration and has continued to serve in its original function as the county courthouse since its construction.
Several Art Deco/Moderne courthouses were constructed in South Dakota during the 1930s. The construction of a courthouse not only provided needed office space but also established a sense of permanence of the county seat to the county’s residents. Most of these buildings were intended to replace 19th-century wood or brick courthouses, and virtually all were constructed with the financial assistance of one or more New Deal-era programs.
The Gregory County Courthouse, designed by Walter J. Dixon from Mitchell and built by the Henry Carlson Construction Company from Sioux Falls, has many features that point to its classification as an Art Deco building. These features include a simple rectangular massing and symmetrical facades, window bays with brick pilasters dividing the primary façade into vertical sections, and a central bay that is emphasized with a projecting first-floor entrance and the double pilasters that frame the bay. Decoration done in stone accents utilized stylized geometric patterns. The decorative bonding patterns in the brick are flush with the wall surface to retain the smooth wall surfaces of the Deco style.
Other recent listings to the National Register of Historic Places from South Dakota include the Sisseton School in Sisseton in November 2020 and the Margaret Burger Apartment House in Sioux Falls in January 2021.
For more information on the National Register or other historic preservation programs, contact the State Historic Preservation Office at the Cultural Heritage Center, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501-2217; telephone 605-773-3458 or online at history.sd.gov/Preservation and click on National Register of Historic Places in the right column. For information on membership in the State Historical Society, please call 605-773-6000.
About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing, and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.