An Invitation to the Governor’s Mansion
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
Linda and I are very fortunate these days. We live in a big home on Capitol Lake where we have a great view of the Capitol Building. My place of employment is only a short walk away and, except when hundreds of geese arrive for the winter, our neighborhood is nice and quiet.
Some of South Dakota’s former governors weren’t quite as lucky. When Pierre was named as the state Capitol, there was no Governor’s residence. Instead, governors received a housing allowance of $75 per month. In 1925 the Legislature approved the purchase of a small yellow cottage on the eastern shore of Capitol Lake.
In 1936, Gov. Tom Berry thought it was time to make improvements to the Governor’s residence. State funds were limited at the time because of the Great Depression, so South Dakota accepted help from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to construct a new home. From 1937 until 2003, governors lived in that home built by the WPA. It was a 57 x 97 foot, two-story house made with native brick, lumber and concrete.
By the time Gov. Mike Rounds came into office, the residence was in rough shape. The wiring was outdated, the plumbing leaked and dry rot had weakened the walls. One night, the Rounds family was preparing to host an evening event. Just before the guests arrived, as someone was upstairs taking a shower, water started pouring through one of the light fixtures. It was time for a new Governor’s Mansion.
The new Governor’s Mansion where Linda and I now reside was completed in the summer of 2005. It was funded entirely through private donations. Thousands of South Dakotans and numerous businesses from across the state donated money and materials to make this mansion possible. The mansion is approximately 14,000 square feet and is located in the precise location of the previous Governor’s Mansion. One-third of the mansion serves as the private residence for the governor and their family. Two-thirds of the building is the public area where large groups can be hosted.
This summer my wife Linda and I are once again opening your Governor’s Mansion for public tours. The 45-minute tours begin at 1 p.m. Central Time on Wednesdays and they are conducted by the First Lady and volunteers. There is no charge for the tours, but you must reserve tickets in advance. June is already booked up, but there are still openings for tours in July and August. Reserve tickets by calling the Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce at 605-224-7361.
Linda and I are honored to stay in such a beautiful home. We know the Governor’s Mansion belongs to the people of South Dakota and we want South Dakotans to be able to experience it for themselves.