Perhaps one of the most impressive examples of architecture in Highmore is the McLaughlin building. George W. McLaughlin founded the first store in 1891 (first photo on the left). No more than a year later, the wooden structure was destroyed by fire. The arsonist, aka “fire bug,” was responsible for several fires at that time. McLaughlin immediately rebuilt in the same location (second photo). His business flourished, and he continued to expand through the early 1900s. Disaster struck again in 1912 when the second building also was taken by fire. However, third time was the charm for McLaughlin’s business endeavors. His third building was a two story brick structure that was huge compared to the standards of the day (third photo).

This 75ft x 115ft building had two floors and a basement. Originally built to accommodate a third level, the thick floors sagged at least fourteen inches when the forms were removed. The only places where the intended height was maintained were the points at which the huge support columns did their job (photo above). All of the shelving had to be “shimmed” to accommodate the issues with the floors and ceilings. It was also a well known fact that you had to “keep one hand on your cart” to prevent it from finding its way to the low point on the floor.

Customers entered the building through two vestibules. These vestibules had doors leading to the various departments. The first floor housed the hardware, grocery, dry good, men’s clothing, and men’s shoes departments. There was also an accounting office where Welcome McLaughlin had his safe and kept records. There was a “trolley-like” system for sending messages back and forth between the office and other departments. A staircase (pictured above) led customers to the second floor. Here they could find the furniture and funeral departments. Welcome McLaughlin was licensed as an embalmer in 1899. He did the businesses’ embalming. Coffins were also built in-house. The McLaughlin store was truly a one stop shop!

The basement housed the freight for each department, the cold storage, and an especially rare treat, a public restroom. Goods were moved up and down to various floors by way of a freight elevator (basement entrance to elevator shown above). When I rode the elevator (elevator shaft pictured above) I noted various examples of graffiti and signatures from years past. In later years when war touched our nation, the building had a fully stocked fallout shelter in the basement as well.

Store by store, the McLaughlins sold out each department until only the furniture department remained. When that last store sold out, the once largest mercantile in central South Dakota closed its doors for good. Currently, the building has been turned into a honey processing plant. The elevator is still in operation, but few of the original furnishings remain. One other remaining feature of the building is the Osh Kosh advertisement on the north side of the building (pictured above, next to the modern photo of the building).

(Historical facts and photos courtesy of the Hyde County Historical Society. Modern photos taken by myself, Nikki Gregg.)

McDonald’s Meat Locker opened for business in 1883. It’s original building, the middle building in the top photo, still stands as it originally did. In fact, the same family owned the business until a little over a decade ago when it closed its doors for good. The second photo shows the meat locker’s interior during the early years.

In 1962, Gary McDonald took over the business from his father. Shortly after doing so, he also purchased the neighboring building to the south. This building had originally been the Bank of Highmore, and had opened its doors in 1907. Although the interior of the bank building has been altered, the outside still retains its beautiful details. The four marble columns framing the entrance are detailed in a leaf pattern. Once you have stepped under the overhang you can look above to see ornate ceiling tiles. Below your feet, there is also the tiled Drew Bros. floor. These beautiful testaments have stood the test of time and remain to be a statement of architectural excellence.

(Historical photos and facts courtesy of the Hyde County Historical Society. The modern photos were taken by myself, Nikki Gregg.)

Construction for the First State Bank building began in the year of 1907. The top photo shows the building, to the far right, being completed. Later, in 1963, an addition was added to the east.

Although most bank business was conducted on the main floor, the building had a basement and a second floor. There were three safes, two in the basement and one on the main floor, each with beautiful hand painted embellishments (above photo shows a rosette on one of the safes in the basement). The upstairs, on the other hand, had several different office spaces. Although I was unable to find out what their original purpose was, in later years they housed a dentist, lawyer, ophthalmologist, and hair salon. In the photos above, you can see the hand painted door to the lawyer’s office and the before and after pictures of the dentist’s office.

Currently, the upstairs is no longer used for business purposes besides storage. Since 1941, the building has been used as a grocery store instead of a bank. Although the columns, front overhang, and the shades on the west windows are no loner there, the building is still, for the most part as it was. The main floor has been remodeled, but the beautiful crown molding can still be seen (pictured above) as well as the spiral wrought iron stair to the upstairs. The basement has been minimally altered and the ornate ceiling tiles remain along with two of the three older safes. The safe on the main floor has been converted into a cooler.

(Historical facts and photos courtesy of the Hyde County Historical Society. The modern day photos were taken by myself, Nikki Gregg. )

The first courthouse in Hyde County (first photo, Courtesy of the Hyde County Historical Society) was dedicated on June 16, 1886. The large building was constructed with wood, had two levels, and a large domed belfry in the front. In 1892, the building was destroyed by fire.

Shortly after the original courthouse was destroyed, Highmore became the county seat for Hyde county. This prompted talks of a new jail and courthouse. Bids were opened on November 5, 1910 with Gray Construction of Watertown making the lowest bid of $51,941.00, and Black Hills Construction doing the architectural work for $1,200.00. The dedication of the new courthouse was on September 30, 1912 (current photo of courthouse pictured above).

Materials for the new building included cement blocks and stone. The “plain sawed red oak” woodwork is still original to this day, along with the slate slab steps, heat radiators (pictured above), wrought iron railings, wrought iron columns (pictured above), and tiled floors. Each office also boasts it’s own spiral staircase into each offices’ individual vault. In these vaults, various records are kept all the way back to after the fire in the first courthouse (photo of record books above). Several other architectural details also catch the eye of visitors. For example, the “light wells” on each floor give visitors a dizzying view through the center of each floor (pictured above). Each “well” is surrounded by a wooden enclosure with a brass railing. On the top floor, the light well is in an entryway that has four alcoves where statues previously stood. Now they are empty, save for a water fountain. The top floor is also where the courtroom is located with all of its original furnishings and light fixtures (pictured above).

Though all of these things are noteworthy, the real treasure of this structure is its beautiful stained glass dome. The dome (pictured above) can only be seen from the interior of the building. Wired art glass is separated into thirty-two sections that meet at a two foot wide flat center. The inspiration behind the design is unknown and has been left to the imagination of the visitor.

(Research materials and photo of the first courthouse are courtesy of the Hyde County Historical Society. All other photos were taken by myself, Nikki Gregg.)

Originally know as Siding No. 5, the settlement that would become Highmore was formed in 1882. What would start was a convenient place to make a supply point on the railroad, would later become a thriving town.  In Spring of 1882, settlers began arriving via boxcar.  Despite several devastating fires, cyclones, and various other maladies, Highmore would grow and thrive.  During its grander years, the town could boast several grocery stores, dealerships, banks, hotels, a department store, meat lockers, creameries, and so on.  Many of these large and interesting examples of architecture still remain.  Through my project, I hope to share many of these such buildings and their lovely hidden details.  

(Above photo is of the early settlement of Highmore, South Dakota. Courtesy of the Hyde County Historical Society.)

Originally know as Siding No. 5, the settlement that would become Highmore was formed in 1882. What would start was a convenient place to make a supply point on the railroad, would later become a thriving town. In Spring of 1882, settlers began arriving via boxcar. Despite several devastating fires, cyclones, and various other maladies, Highmore would grow and thrive. During its grander years, the town could boast several grocery stores, dealerships, banks, hotels, a department store, meat lockers, creameries, and so on. Many of these large and interesting examples of architecture still remain. Through my project, I hope to share many of these such buildings and their lovely hidden details.

(Above photo is of the early settlement of Highmore, South Dakota. Courtesy of the Hyde County Historical Society.)

The beautiful prairie view from an abandoned school house in southern Hyde county.

The beautiful prairie view from an abandoned school house in southern Hyde county.

Follow me on tumblr to enjoy my photo history of the forgotten architecture in small South Dakota towns. The first town I will be investigating is Highmore, South Dakota.

Follow me on tumblr to enjoy my photo history of the forgotten architecture in small South Dakota towns. The first town I will be investigating is Highmore, South Dakota.

"The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own, we have no soul of our civilization." - Frank Lloyd Wright.

"The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own, we have no soul of our civilization." - Frank Lloyd Wright.