Things to do in Redfield, South Dakota, if you like history

Located in the east of South Dakota, Redfield is a town steeped in history, where echoes of the past resonate through its streets and landmarks.

From the iconic Redfield Depot, a testament to its railroad heritage, to the elegant Norbeck-Nicholson Carriage House, each structure tells a tale of bygone eras. The Redfield Carnegie Library stands as a sentinel of knowledge, while the Old Redfield City Hall and the modern Redfield City Hall mirror the town’s evolution.

The majestic Spink County Courthouse exudes grandeur, while the Spink County Museum weaves a tapestry of the region’s heritage. Join us as we embark on a journey through time, exploring the historical treasures that define Redfield’s narrative.

A brief history of Redfield

Founded in 1878, Redfield’s history is interwoven with the expansion of railroads and its evolution into a vibrant town. Originally named “Stennett Junction,” the town’s identity transformed to “Redfield” in 1881. Joseph Barlow Redfield, an influential investor and auditor with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroads, lent his name to the town.

The late 1800s saw a contentious struggle for the county seat of Spink County. Redfield, emerging as a pivotal contender, secured the position in 1886 after years of legal and political disputes.

Thriving due to its strategic railroad connections, Redfield was a crossroads for the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Milwaukee Road Railroad, facilitating the movement of goods, people, and crops.

Educational and institutional establishments added to Redfield’s significance. Redfield College, established in 1887, contributed to intellectual growth until 1932. In 1902, the “Northern Hospital for the Insane” began its operations north of the town, now known as the South Dakota Developmental Center.

Today, Redfield is a thriving city with over 2,300 residents, encapsulating the heart of pheasant hunting territory. A place of community and relaxation, it offers amenities like a swimming pool, sports fields, parks, and the Hav-A-Rest Park for camping and outdoor activities.

The Redfield Depot

The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Depot, erected in 1914 by C&NW for $38,000, stands at Redfield’s west-end business district in South Dakota. This Gothic Revival-style depot features a distinctive long red brick structure with a slate roof.

Internally, it accommodates segregated waiting rooms, an agent’s office with ticket windows, an exterior bay window along the tracks, a dining room, kitchen, telegraph, and freight offices.

The rarity of Gothic Revival architecture for commercial buildings at the time underscored the depot’s significance. Constructed a decade after Redfield’s naming, the first C&NW depot emerged in 1891. Up to 250 town residents worked for C&NW due to Redfield’s pivotal role.

Noteworthy for its association with Charles Frost’s architectural work, the depot is a National Register of Historic Places listing. It represents Gothic Revival architecture and its link to Redfield’s evolution.

While passenger service ceased in the 1950s, early 2000s renovations transformed the depot into a museum and visitor center. The site features a gift shop with memorabilia, model trains, local products, and a meticulously crafted dollhouse.

The Norbeck-Nicholson Carriage House

The Norbeck-Nicholson Carriage House, situated at 910 E. 2nd St. in Redfield, Spink County, South Dakota, is a historic carriage house of note, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Erected during the period of 1907–1909, this architectural gem showcases brickwork in a running bond pattern, complemented by a concrete foundation, lintels, lugsills, and distinctive triangular asphalt shingles.

Originally constructed for the partnership of Peter Norbeck and Charles Nicholson, who operated a successful artesian well business in Redfield, this house embodies a significant historical connection. Notably, Peter Norbeck, one of its owners, served in various political capacities, including as South Dakota Governor and US Senator.

Inscribed in the National Register in 2015, the Norbeck-Nicholson Carriage House received this distinction due to its dual significance: its close ties to the early local evolution of vehicular transportation and its architectural uniqueness as an exceptionally well-preserved masonry carriage house, which stands as a rare local exemplar.

The Redfield Carnegie Library

The Redfield Carnegie Library, located at 5 East Fifth Avenue in Redfield, South Dakota, stands as a testament to history and knowledge. Erected in 1902, this architectural marvel has been a cornerstone of the community for over a century and holds the honor of being the oldest continuously operating Carnegie Library in South Dakota.

Originally established as a reading club where members pooled resources to share books, the library’s evolution was catalyzed by a $10,000 grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation in March 1902.

This financial support facilitated the construction of a grand red brick building with exquisite tan sandstone details, including foundation, lintels, sills, and a captivating domed cupola. Inside, the library boasts stunning oak columns and woodwork that complement its timeless design.

The Redfield Carnegie Library has not only preserved its historic charm but has also adapted to the needs of the modern community. In 2008, a thoughtful addition was completed, maintaining the original building’s scale and incorporating amenities like an elevator and a community room. The entire structure is now fully accessible, reflecting a commitment to inclusivity.

With over 23,000 volumes, the Redfield Carnegie Library continues to serve the citizens of Redfield, offering a haven for learning and exploration. Its enduring legacy is a testament to the profound impact of libraries on the intellectual and cultural fabric of a community.

The Old Redfield City Hall

Situated at 517 N. Main St. in Redfield, South Dakota, the Old Redfield City Hall stands as a historical emblem of the town’s past. Erected in 1928, this two-story structure is a captivating fusion of brown and red brick, spanning 25 by 70 feet (7.6 m × 21.3 m) in dimension.

Notably, the building earned a prestigious spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, a testament to its enduring significance.

As a prominent fixture within the two-block commercial district along Main Street, the Old Redfield City Hall was the heart of municipal activity from 1928 to 1979. Architects Perkins & McWayne of Sioux Falls lent their creative vision to the design, while contractors Stolte & Dobratz executed its construction.

The building’s exterior boasts brown and red brickwork above a concrete foundation, adorned with decorative elements such as a concrete porch with pilasters and an entablature. A series of charming windows grace both floors, reflecting the architectural style of the era.

A key feature of the upper façade is the chiseled inscription “Redfield City Hall,” which proudly encapsulates its civic role.

Today, the Old Redfield City Hall continues to tell the tale of Redfield’s evolution, serving as a living testament to the town’s architectural heritage.

The Redfield City Hall

Nestled at 626 Main Street, the Redfield City Hall is a testament to the town’s rich history and transformation. Initially constructed as a bank in 1915, it later housed the Spink County Bank after a brief closure in the 1920s. In 1979, this distinguished edifice became the new hub for Redfield’s city offices, marking a significant shift in its role within the community.

A symbol of civic pride, this historic structure boasts timeless features. At its entrance, two stately columns lend a classic touch, while an external clock graces its side, echoing the town’s enduring rhythm. The building’s front proudly displays the American flag, fluttering atop a steadfast flagpole.

Within these walls, the Redfield Area Chamber of Commerce finds its residence, underscoring its significance as a community nexus. A visit to the Redfield City Hall offers a glimpse into the town’s past and present, where architectural elegance meets civic purpose.

The Spink County Courthouse

The Spink County Courthouse, a venerable emblem of legal administration, proudly stands at 210 E. Seventh Ave. in Redfield, South Dakota. This historic courthouse, erected in 1927, is a captivating showcase of the Classical Revival architectural style.

A pinnacle of civic design, it gained its rightful spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, a testament to its enduring significance.

Architect Beaver Wade Day of Toltz, King & Day Inc. lent his visionary talent to the courthouse’s design, while its realization was entrusted to Standard Construction Co. Crafted from brick, limestone, and an abundance of architectural finesse, the three-story structure stands as a symbol of both legal prowess and artistic mastery.

Graceful classical columns and symmetrical proportions define the building’s facade, echoing the stylistic preferences of the era. With a facade adorned with stately engaged Doric columns and ornate stone surrounds, the courthouse conveys a sense of authority and gravitas.

A sense of balance and order is reflected in the facade’s arrangement of windows and the central entrance, showcasing the meticulous attention to detail that typifies the Classical Revival style.

As the cornerstone of legal affairs in Spink County, the Spink County Courthouse not only serves as a functional hub but also stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of architectural ingenuity and civic pride.

The Spink County Museum

Nestled south of the Spink County Courthouse, at the intersection of 3rd Street E. & 8th Avenue E., the Spink County Museum stands as a tribute to the past. Erected through generous donations and consecrated on June 25, 1960, this museum stands as a stalwart guardian of Spink County’s history.

Within its walls, the museum weaves a tapestry of the region’s heritage. Among its treasures, visitors encounter exhibits honoring early visionaries like Peter Norbeck and Charles Nicholson.

An eclectic assortment awaits, ranging from musical instruments and agricultural machinery to military uniforms and a captivating array of early Spink County settlements. A star attraction is the Hindersman cabinets, masterpieces adorned with concealed compartments that spark intrigue.

The Spink County Museum’s dedication to preserving the chronicles of yesteryears makes it a vital hub for both locals and visitors seeking to connect with the region’s rich legacy.

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