The Mount Vernon City Auditorium in Mount Vernon was added on Jan. 31 to the National Register of Historic Places, officials with the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre announced.
The National Register is the official federal list of properties identified as important to 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.
The Mount Vernon City Auditorium is located on the corner of Main Street and East 1st Avenue in Mount Vernon. It is an auditorium and sports facility, as well as having been historically used as an assembly building for school events and, for a time, the city library.
The auditorium was designed by Walter J. Dixon of Mitchell and constructed in 1941 with support from the Works Progress Administration under the supervision of foreman John Schultz of Sioux Falls. The city of Mount Vernon paid $10,000 for its construction and the WPA provided $20,000.
The building took a little over a year to complete. It is a two-story, concrete building with a raised basement and barrel arch roof. New Deal era trends toward Art Moderne aesthetics can be seen in modest ways through the building’s minimal ornamentation, smooth wall surfaces, horizontal grooved lines in the façade, and stepped entrance surround.
The Mount Vernon City Auditorium proved to be a significant expansion to the town's educational and recreational facilities. It has been the site of basketball and volleyball games, fundraising tournaments, school dances, ceremonies, banquets, elections, and local group meetings. The city library had space in the building until it was moved to a new school facility in 1998. In February 1977, the City of Mount Vernon transferred the auditorium property to the Mount Vernon School District 17-3. The “Old Gym” is still used regularly for a variety of community activities and events.
“South Dakota has a very rich history and culture ranging from prehistoric Indian villages, 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 in the National Register does not place any limitations on private property owners by the federal government.
For 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 website history.sd.gov/Preservation. Click on National Register of Historic Places in the right column.
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.