Medary Monument getting a makeover

Matthew Rhodes/Register: The Medary Monument is located about 8 miles south of Brookings on old Highway 77. There are two plaques next to the extended shoulder visitors can review to learn about the history of the pioneers who constructed the monument back in 1929.

DAR teams up with Brookings County to restore structure

BROOKINGS – The Medary Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is working with Brookings County to refurbish and bolster the sturdiness of the Medary Monument on old Highway 77.

Nancy Stewart, chapter regent of the Medary Chapter, and Chapter Historian Janet Gritzner both approached county commissioners last month expressing their desire to restore the monument, located about 8 miles south of Brookings.

Stewart and Gritzner addressed the commissioners because, for the past several years, no one really knew who owned the monument. After three years of historical research with deeds, tax records and interviews, the women couldn’t find the original owner of the monument.

“It was likely that a pioneer association owned the monument, of which they are no longer,” Gritzner said. “Whenever the land that is in the same area as the monument would be sold, it would always exclude the monument.”

The County has since laid claim to the monument and the small swath of land it is on due to no one offering evidence of ownership. The area has been maintained by area residents, Stewart said.

In an excerpt written in 1934 by Fred Minier, he describes the 17-foot tall prairie rock-laden structure. It marks the location and importance of Medary being the first settlement in the Dakota Territory. Minier also notes a permanent time capsule built within the monument, containing various histories of the area and a “Golden Jubilee” copy of The Brookings Register.

The process to restore the monument began three years ago due to a specific change within the DAR system. 

Chapters could be renamed to note specific locations instead of being named after members of those who fought in the Revolutionary War. The local DAR chapter wanted to and eventually became the Medary Chapter, hence the desire to restore the monument. 

In addition to the name change, it was the DAR that funded and promoted the pillar back in 1929.

It is also a major component of the DAR to seek out historical landmarks and restore them. To the newly named Medary Chapter, the mission of restoration was clear.

Over the three years of scouring, the DAR has raised $3,000 to be put toward the restoration and have found a willing contractor, Rick Niklason of Niklason Masonry, to do the work.

As of right now, the DAR and the county are working on a memorandum of understanding establishing the Medary Chapter’s involvement and intent as well as its donation for the 90-year-old monolith.

However, there is still debate as to the actual cost of restoration. 

Four years ago, Banner Associates did a structural analysis of the monument and estimated the cost being around $15,000 to complete. Niklason has given the estimate to be just under $6,000. 

Those involved hope work on the structure can begin later this summer.

Contact Matthew Rhodes at [email protected].

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