A state survey shows that more than 200 locations in Moody County are historical enough that they might be worth pursing status on the National Register of Historical Places.
Some of the easily identifiable buildings are the stone Romanesque bank in Egan, the Egan school, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church near the Flandreau Indian School, Flandreau Post Office, Trent Baptist Church, Colman Lutheran Church, the Antoine House in Grovena Township and dozens of homes in Flandreau.
An historic property has to be at least 50 years old and be significant in architecture, history, the people associated with it or in research potential to be included on the registry. It also has to have integrity in its setting, materials, workmanship, design or historical feeling.
The survey included 319 properties in the county, of which 182 were identified as being potentially eligible for the designation and 27 farmsteads surveyed with 21 potentially eligible.
The Moody County survey was done in the summer of 2017 by a contract worker who drove all public roads in the county to identify properties that may be worth considering for the historic designation. Properties had to be able to be seen from the road, so other potential sites may exist if hidden behind trees or other buildings.
There are several reasons that identifying historic properties are important, said Liz Almlie, historical preservation specialist with the South Dakota State Historical Society who helps property owners apply for historic status. She presented the survey findings to a handful of residents who attended a meeting at the museum last week. Copies of the survey are on file at the Moody County Museum and the Moody County Resource Center.
Benefits of being on the registry include education, research, tourism and possible tax breaks or grants, she said.
“The biggest benefit that people find is the funding programs. The grant is relatively limited and competitive. But for some projects that could be relevant,” she said. Benefits can include a 20 percent income tax credit, for example, and an eight-year moratorium on taxes on improvements made on the property.
Moody County has 15 properties so far on the historical registry, including three bridges. The most recent property added is the First Presbyterian Church and Cemetery on Highway 13, a location that was added July 31, 2017. Before that, the most recent was the Drake Claim House near Chester, which was added in January 2015.
In Flandreau, buildings on the registry include the Moody County Court House, the Crystal Theatre, the George Few house, the Flandreau Masonic Temple, the Japanese Gardens Dance Pavilion, the Pettigrew barns and the St. Vincent’s Hotel.
Dale A. Johnson, a museum board volunteer and former school librarian, said he was not surprised by the number of potential historic buildings and sites, given the age of Flandreau, which celebrates its 150th anniversary next year, and the age of the county, which will be 150 in 2023.
“If we don’t keep how people lived and what they did … we’re missing something,” he said. Today, sometimes people want to interpret historical places through their own modern experiences, he said. Instead, history should be preserved as it was, discussed and become something we learn from, he said.
Several of the homes identified as potential candidates for the historic registry have architecture that isn’t common in the area, including several in the Tudor Revival style, Almlie said.
She is not sure how many potential applications to expect following the county survey, but already has had one family interested in pursuing an application.