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Jacobson House in Clay County Listed to National Register of Historic Places

The Basil H. and Frances Jacobson House in Vermillion has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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 these properties. 

“The Jacobson House was nominated as a great example of the Contemporary style of architecture that was popular in the late 1960s and 1970s. It is also the only known house in the state designed by well-known architect John Normile,” said Ted Spencer, state historic preservation officer. “It’s a bonus when we can highlight a house for multiple historic significances.”

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.

The Jacobson House is significant for being an excellent example of the Mid-Century Modern style of architecture. This style is referred to as the Contemporary style. As of its nomination, it is the only confirmed example in Vermillion of a house constructed from plans purchased through the home plans division of Better Homes and Gardens. This is significant because this home plan was designed by notable architect John Normile. Normile served as the Building Editor of the home plans division for more than 30 years. The home plans were labeled “Better Homes for All America, Plan No. 36010A.” It is unknown if the plans were bought by the Jacobson family or by the contractor.

The Jacobson family consisted of Basil Howard, his wife Frances, and their three children. Both Frances and Basil were born in Iowa and married there in 1933. The family moved to Vermillion in 1966 when Basil took a job at the University of South Dakota as the Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction. He also served as the Director of the Teacher Placement Bureau and Student Records. The house was built in 1968, the same year the family bought the lot. The Jacobson family owned the house until June 1975 when they sold it to William and Mary Fryer for $48,000. It is assumed that the family left Vermillion that same year.

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 website, 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, 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. For questions or memberships, call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.