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Governor’s Mansion

History of the Governor's Residence

Gov Mansion

When South Dakota became a state in 1889, it began a fifteen-year controversy over a permanent location for the state Capitol. In the 1904 election, voters decided that Pierre would become the permanent seat of government in South Dakota and plans for a new Capitol building were approved.

With the new Capitol building under construction, there was no permanent housing in Pierre for the First Family. From 1889 until 1937, the South Dakota Governor was given a housing allowance of $75.00 per month by the legislature, and he was responsible for finding his own living quarters. Several homes still standing in Pierre today have served as the personal living quarters of the First Family of South Dakota.

In 1925, the state legislature purchased a small yellow cottage, located on the eastern shore of Capitol Lake, for the purpose of providing housing for South Dakota's First Family. The cottage served as the Governor's Residence until 1936, when Governor Tom Berry (1933-1937) decided home improvements were needed. He lacked legislative support to build a Governor's Residence with state funds and was forced to turn to the federal government for aid. In 1936, the Governor's Residence project was approved by the federal government and plans were prepared by Resettlement Administration architects. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) financed the project and began construction on the 57 X 97 foot, two-story structure. The home was built from native brick, lumber, and concrete, and replaced the original cottage which was sold for $1,270 and was moved to another location in Pierre; however, the exact location is not known.

From 1937 until 2003, the Governor’s Residence served as private living quarters and a public building for all South Dakota governors and their families. Because of severe infrastructure problems and outdated facilities, the Bureau of Administration and the Capitol Beautification Commission recommended that the Governor’s Residence be replaced with a new facility which would better serve the needs of the governor, first family, and the citizens of South Dakota.

Gov Mansion

The former Residence was officially closed on November 3, 2003, and relocated to a lot in east Pierre in December 2003 for safekeeping until a decision could be made for proper disposal of the building. A collaborative effort between the state of South Dakota, South Dakota Community Foundation, Pierre Economic Development Corporation and the Capitol Beautification Commission was implemented, and construction began in earnest on the new Governor’s Residence in the spring of 2004. Under the supervision of the general contractor, Henry Carlson Company of Sioux Falls, hundreds of contractors and sub-contractors worked tirelessly until construction was completed in June of 2005. Thousands of South Dakotans and numerous corporations and companies from across the state contributed substantial amounts of money, products and services.

Measuring approximately 14,000 square feet, the new two-story residence is poised peacefully on the shores of Capitol Lake in the precise location as the previous Governor’s Residence. The new residence serves as the private residence for governors and their families and as a facility capable of hosting about 100 guests for gubernatorial public events.

The private side of the Governor’s Residence features offices for the governor and first lady, full living quarters, including a kitchen, living room, dining room, family room, and five family bedrooms. The grand dining room and the governor’s private office include fireplaces accented with rock blasted from Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills. The public side of the Governor’s Residence includes a grand dining hall which will accommodate approximately 80 guests, a commercial kitchen and cooking facilities, greeting area, and two staterooms or guest quarters.

The exterior of the Governor’s Residence is adorned with field stone from near Miller, South Dakota, while other portions of the exterior feature copper flashing, specially cast concrete, South Dakota brick, and numerous roof adornments to add to the exterior appeal.

Gov Mansion

The design and construction of the South Dakota Governor’s Residence will be a source of pride and honor for generations of South Dakotans to come.

Information and pictures courtesy of the Bureau of Administration and the Department of Tourism.