May is archaeology and historic preservation month


South Dakota’s Historic Preservation Month has been observed since it was established at the national level in May 1973. In 2005, the state added archaeology to the celebration to recognize it as a partner in preserving history. Our state’s cultural heritage is rich and diverse as represented by thousands of archaeological and historical sites, historic buildings, and landscapes that have been discovered and recorded throughout the state. Public appreciation and understanding is the foundation of protecting and preserving South Dakota’s past for future generations.

The theme for 2019, “There’s No Place Like Home,” reminds us that people have been calling South Dakota home for over 10,000 years. The construction methods, materials, and designs of homes in South Dakota have changed dramatically over these years. Archaeology & Historic Preservation Month is a great time to think about these homes and the people who built them, remembering that whether it was an earth lodge or a bungalow, there really is no place like home.

In all, over 6,700 buildings, structures, objects, and sites from 65 of South Dakota’s 66 counties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Further, nearly 200 local historical societies, museums, archives, interpretive centers, and historic sites operate across the state. These historic properties and historical organizations demonstrate that history is an important component of life in South Dakota today.

South Dakota has a proud history. Therefore, it is not surprising that historic preservation is important in the state, with the rehabilitation of historic buildings occurring in communities large and small, and heritage tourists flocking to South Dakota’s many unique historic and cultural attractions. Historic preservation improves the quality of life for both South Dakota residents as well as those visiting the state.

Upon visiting a renovated historic building, people generally recognize the importance of preserving and promoting historic places. Very few people look at a renovated historic building bustling with activity and think, “Gee, I wish we had demolished that instead.”

Throughout Archaeology & Historic Preservation Month, the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission will present stories as they originally appeared in the Brookings Register on historic downtown business buildings that were built between 1893 and 1903 and are still standing and serving the community well.

Information courtesy of S.D. Historic Preservation Office

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