To the Editor:

While I appreciate the fact that the Clay County Courthouse Planning Committee expressed their appreciation to me for the time I spent talking to them about the history of our Clay County Courthouse and about courthouses across the state of South Dakota (Vermillion Plain Talk, August 16, 2019), I do not want to leave the impression that I agree with their recommendations. I think that it would be a mistake to tear down (raze) our historically significant courthouse which is on the National Registry of Historic Places. I fear that it will be replaced by an architecturally undistinguished structure built where it will contribute to urban sprawl and further reduce the population and business in our downtown area.

I am aware of courthouses which have been demolished in South Dakota but I don’t believe that any of them were structurally sound buildings like the Clay County Courthouse. None of them were replaced by a building with a comparable sense of dignity or historic significance! What would the USD campus look like today if they had followed the initial recommendations to tear down Old Main?

Arthur Rusch

Author, “County Capitols: The

Courthouses of South Dakota.”


(1) comment


There was a letter to the editor in this week’s Plain Talk that contained an error and it needs to be corrected. The Clay County Courthouse, Jail, and Law Enforcement Facility Planning Committee sent a recommendation to the County Commissioners that we build a new courthouse/law enforcement center and the recommendation has been approved. The letter to the editor in this week's Plain Talk stated the committee recommended razing the current courthouse and that statement is false. The committee HAS NOT recommended the razing of the current courthouse.

The suggestion that the courthouse be razed was in an architect’s report the committee was given. In fact the following statement was included in the committee’s recommendation: “In contrast to the Klien McCarthy Architects recommendation, this committee would not raze the current courthouse structure but would favor redirecting the current building to other use”. It is unfortunate the writer of that letter missed that comment.

Robert Fuller


Clay County Courthouse, Jail, and Law Enforcement Facility Planning Committee

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