You are here

Custer County Courthouse Museum

-A A +A
Custer County Courthouse
1881; 1915 additions. 411 Mt. Rushmore Rd.
  • (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)

The Custer County Courthouse fronts the main commercial street in downtown Custer. The western South Dakota county was established by the Dakota Territory Legislature in 1875 and officially organized after the region was opened to Euro-American settlers in 1877. After an 1881 land survey established Custer as the county seat, the courthouse was constructed at the cost of $12,000. The red brick, two-story, Italianate building sits on a raised basement and has a hipped roof clad in asphalt shingles. Two 1915 additions flank the original volume on the east and west sides.

Italianate features include the main entrance’s single-story projecting porch, which is supported by simple columns and pilasters. The porch is topped by a balustraded balcony and three windows with double-coursed brick rounded arches (all other windows feature segmental arches). The widow’s walk on top of the building features a railing similar to that of the second-floor balcony. Ornamentation on the central volume includes modillions and pairs of brackets beneath the wide overhanging eaves; the additions are much simpler.

The courtroom was located on the top floor, accessed via a winding staircase. The jail was located in the basement, where bars can still be seen on the windows. The building ceased its original function in 1973, when a larger courthouse was built a block south on Washington Street. Since 1975, this structure has housed a museum run by the Custer County Historical Society.


Historic Sites Committee, “Custer County Courthouse,” Custer County, South Dakota. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1972. 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 Press, 2014.

Writing Credits

Michelle L. Dennis



  • 1881


What's Nearby


Michelle L. Dennis, "Custer County Courthouse Museum", [Custer, South Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.