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Bon Homme County Courthouse

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1914, Joseph A. Schwarz. 300 W. 18th Ave. (Cherry St.)

Bon Homme County was established by the Dakota Territorial Legislature in 1862. Tyndall was made the county seat in 1885, and the town’s citizens donated $6,000 to build the first courthouse on this site north of Main Street.

In 1914, the County hired Sioux Falls architect Joseph A. Schwarz, who had already completed courthouses in Moody and Stanley counties, to design a larger structure. Built at a cost of $92,000 by the A. M. Wold Construction Company of Brookings, the three-story Renaissance Revival courthouse sits at the center of the city block. Symmetrical facades feature five bays on the front and rear elevations and three on each side elevation. The central three bays on the Cherry Street (main) elevation project forward under a highly decorative hood. Paired Corinthian columns separate the bays and support an entablature, frieze, and cornice with dentils and modillions. The entrance is further emphasized by a pediment above the second-floor window. The ground level of the gray granite building has a rusticated appearance due to deeply scored joints between the stone, further highlighting the prominent entrance facade. The upper floors have smooth joints and a smooth stone surface.

The highly decorated interior is typical of Beaux-Arts classicism. A central rotunda with circular stairwell orients visitors and is illuminated by a stained glass skylight dome. The floors and stairway are marble, and the walls are embellished with decorative elements including pilasters and dentils. Several of the original brass light fixtures remain. Four large murals painted by Swedish artist Axel Edward Soderberg (1859–1922) of O. J. Oyen Studios in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, depict scenes of pioneer life. Soderberg first achieved fame in his native Sweden after painting the ceiling decoration for the Swedish king’s summer palace in Uppsala, and immigrated to the United States to participate in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Oyen Studios also provided decorative murals for several other South Dakota county courthouses.

References

Hufstetler, Mark, and Lon Johnson, “County Courthouses of South Dakota,” South Dakota. National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form, 1992. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Rusch, Arthur L. County Capitols: The Courthouses of South Dakota. Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society, 2014.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Michelle L. Dennis
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Data

Timeline

  • 1914

    Built

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Citation

Michelle L. Dennis, "Bon Homme County Courthouse", [Tyndall, South Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/SD-01-009-0004.

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