PIERRE, S.D. – In 1885, the Dakota Territory was graced with the stately Mellette House. Arthur Calvin Mellette and his wife Margaret constructed the house for themselves and their four boys. Arthur served as the tenth governor of the Dakota Territory and the first governor of South Dakota.
The Mellette House was of the Italianate design, which was popular at the time. The house features an ornate winding staircase, which is arguably one of the most impressive features of the home. The staircase was specially made for the home in Minnesota and shipped to Watertown by train.
By 1943, severe decay and condemnation threatened to destroy the Mellette House. The people of Watertown rallied to save the iconic building, and the Mellette Memorial Association was created in 1943. The Association purchased the Mellette House and immediately set to restoring the home to its former glory.
In 1953, Charles Mellette donated many original Mellette family artifacts to the Mellette Memorial Association. The home was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and will remain preserved and protected under the statute.
The Mellette House served many functions throughout its existence, including private residence, radio station, apartment building, and finally museum. It is located at 421 5th Avenue NW in Watertown, S.D. A historic marker is situated in the front yard.
The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota from 2003-2010 and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.
The South Dakota Office of Tourism is not responsible for the text included on these markers. Some of the language used at the time of production may not be appropriate by today’s standards. Please view the markers at your own discretion.