You are here

Buell Building

-A A +A
1888–1889; later additions. 632 St. Joseph St.
  • (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)
  • (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)

The Buell Building sits on the northeast corner of St. Joseph and Seventh streets in downtown Rapid City, one block from Main Street. Rapid City was founded in 1876 and quickly grew as a “jumping off” spot for miners headed to the Black Hills to participate in the gold rush. By the 1880s, when it was clear that the town would become a permanent settlement, efforts commenced to construct lasting commercial, educational, religious, governmental, and industrial buildings and structures. The Buell Building was among those erected in this period.

The building was originally home to the Lakota Banking and Investment Company, with a banking hall on the first floor and offices upstairs. Its design draws on a number of architectural styles: a Romanesque arcade defines the first floor, Italianate details grace the second, and a Moorish onion dome highlights the main entrance on the corner. The dome is covered with sheet copper and iron, crafted by metal worker Bill Nicholas.

In 1901 Judge Charles J. Buell purchased the building to house his law office. This was a period of growth in Rapid City and as business activity expanded in town, so did the Buell Building. Additions in 1901, 1915, and 1925 extended the building along Seventh Street, allowing for a variety of commercial enterprises on the first floor and additional second-floor offices. Among the offices located in the building was the U.S. Weather Station, which flew forecast flags from a flagpole atop the dome. The basement, which housed a pool hall for many years, was originally accessed by an exterior stairway from the sidewalk on the south side of the building.

Part of the Rapid City Historic Commercial District since its designation in 1974, the Buell Building was restored in the 1980s. It housed a succession of tenants in the subsequent decades and by 2012, had deteriorated to the point of being included in the Rapid City Historic Preservation Commission’s 2012 list of “buildings in peril.”


Erpestad, David, and David Wood. Building South Dakota. Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 1997.

Strain, David F. Black Hills Hay Camp. Rapid City, SD: Dakota West Books and Fenske Printing, Inc., 1989.

Writing Credits

Michelle L. Dennis



  • 1888

  • 1901

  • 1915

  • 1925


What's Nearby


Michelle L. Dennis, "Buell Building", [Rapid City, 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.