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Historic Buildings

Sweeney Building

701 Main Street

On this site, the southwest corner of Main and Seventh Street, early Rapid City businessman Thomas Sweeney launched his successful hardware business in 1887. His three-story warehouse had more floor space than any business house in Rapid City. Tom Sweeney Hardware Co. had the most extensive and varied stock of…

The Duhamel Building

503 Sixth Street

The finest example of Chicago Style architecture in Rapid City is the 1909 Duhamel Building, at St. Joseph and Sixth Streets. Built by local entrepreneur Peter Duhamel, it expressed the trend toward modernism by using reinforced steel framing. The load-bearing capacity allows for expansive window surfaces, stability for large flat…

Motor Service

402 St. Joseph Street

Since its construction in 1929, the Motor Service Co. building has managed to avoid the modernization, expansion and flight to the suburbs that most early car dealerships went through. In fact, this building has never been restored. It still retains the classic 1920s automobile dealership features. From 1929 until 2006,…

Syndicate Building

601 to 605 St. Joe

It's hard to believe, but the three one-story storefronts you see today were once the tallest buildings in Rapid City. The Syndicate Block was a three-story building that dominated the downtown skyline until the Alex Johnson Hotel was constructed across the street. However, a fire badly damaged the building, and…

Italianate Trio

North side of St. Joseph Street in the 600-block

These three Italianate-style, brick buildings, appropriately known as "The Italianate Trio," were constructed during a building boom between 1884 and 1888. All exhibit the heavy, decorative cornices and the tall, narrow, arched windows with elaborate window hoods definitive of this Queen Anne-period style. The distinctive windows create an interesting, lively…

First National

631 Main Street

Two things of interest in this photo -- and at this corner. The first First National Bank of Rapid City was constructed in 1886, but it was replaced by the second First National Bank in 1914. It was built of concrete and steel in the Neo-Classical Revival style. The lobby…

Alex Johnson

523 Sixth Street

Construction on the Alex Johnson Hotel, one of Rapid City's grandest landmarks, began in August 1927, one day before workers began carving the granite faces on Mount Rushmore. On July 1, 1928, the hotel's first guest to sign the register was Paddy O'Neil. The first-floor tavern is named in his…

Main Street

600 Block of Main Street

If you look closely at this 1902 street scene, you'll see some familiar buildings. Many of the structures on this block have been restored in recent years. And like a lot of historic preservation projects, this work involved a lot of removal. Removal of false fronts, sheet metal facades and…

Anchor Bar

710 St. Joe

Back in the post-World War II era, 710 St. Joseph Street was home to the Anchor Bar -- kind of an odd theme choice considering Rapid City is about as far from the ocean as you can get in North America. But in those days, downtown Rapid City had a…

Last Chance Saloon

508 Main Street

If there's one thing Rapid City had plenty of downtown, it was saloons. Located between the Black Hills lumber camps, the Northern Hills mining district and the cattle ranching expanses of western South Dakota, there was certainly enough demand for places to drink. The Whimsically named Last Chance-First Chance Saloon…

St. Joseph Street Scene

Mount Rushmore Road & St. Joe

This scene from the 1920s or '30s shows St. Joseph Street looking east from Eighth Street (now Mount Rushmore Road). Three of the city's most prominent buildings -- the Alex Johnson, the Buell Building and the Federal Building -- can be seen. The Federal Building, now private offices, was built…

Clower Block

606 Main Street

The 1886 Clower building, also known as the Morris Block, represents the finest example of high-style Italianate in Rapid City. "Big Jack" Clower's Saloon, one of the most notorious drinking establishments in town, originally occupied the first floor. There were many a report of a young cowboy bellying up to…

Gambrill Building

822 Main Street

The 1910 Gambrill building represents a modest example of commercial Renaissance Revival architecture. Construction is sturdy, owing to its function as a storage warehouse, with 24-inch thick solid stone basement walls and floors capable of bearing massive loads. Materials are tan brick with contrasting brown brick. In recent years, the…

Buell Building

630 St. Joseph Street

Built in 1888, the Buell Building was home to Lakota Banking & Investment Co. Attorney Charles Buell bought it in 1901, renamed it established his law firm on the second floor. For a time, the building was home to the National Weather Bureau. (A weather flag on the roof told…

Fire Hall

610 Main Street

Rapid City's early fire department consisted of three hose companies organized in 1881, and a hook-and-ladder company. The department became formally organized in 1907, and in 1915 this fine new fire hall was built. The two-story building, constructed of brick and Fall River sandstone, exemplifies the Chicago School style. Following…

City Hall

620 Sixth Street

Rapid City's first City Hall, built in 1903, was nearly as humble as the early Rapid City it served. Just one story tall, built next to the alley, it served the needs of the small-but-growing city for a number of years. In addition to the city offices, this building also…

Rapid City Garage

510 Ninth Street

Rapid City Garage, built in 1911, was the first fireproof garage in town. The Cole Roadster was its stock in trade. Large entry doors, reinforced floors, and a ramp to the basement were some of its functional elements. The business continued here until 1928, when the Cole Roadster was discontinued.…

Elks Building

512 Sixth Street

J.P. Eisentraut designed the Elks Lodge in 1911, combining lavish clubrooms and offices on upper floors with storefronts at street level. The yellow brick, Mission-style edifice displays concrete detailing. The foundation reportedly contains dinosaur footprints. Upper-story windows are Chicago-school style. The Elks Theatre was originally a lavish opera house that…

Rapid City Implement

445 Mount Rushmore Road

Rapid City Implement Co. opened in 1907 at the northwest corner of Main and Eighth Streets (Mount Rushmore Road). This building is long gone: As farm equipment became more sophisticated, not to mention big, dealers needed more space. And as Rapid City grew, so did demand for downtown property. Today…

Windsor Block

629 St. Joseph Street

In 1884, entrepreneur Robert Flormann built the Windsor Block, at St. Joseph and Seventh Streets. Designed in the Italianate Commercial style, it was built with brick from Marshall's Brickyard, located outside the Rapid City limits at that time. Over the years, this building has served Rapid City in a variety…