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?
Author, “County Capitols: The
Courthouses of South Dakota.”