The Verendrye Museum in Fort Pierre is named for Louis and Chevalier Verendrye, two French brothers who explored the upper reaches of the Missouri River.
About the Museum
115 Deadwood Street, Fort Pierre, SD 57532
Thank you to all who attended the 2020 Annual meeting and/or sent in your memberships! Over 45 people attended the Annual Meeting and dinner at the Sutley Senior Center on Saturday, January 25, 2020.
Your support is greatly appreciated! Congratulations to the Bierle Family of Midland who received a Horseshoe plaque recognizing them as the “ Friend of History 2020 Award” for their continued work in keeping history alive through supporting trail rides, finding and marking the trails by marking them with oak signs which will help them last longer. G&N Construction received a Buffalo plaque recognizing them as the “Friend of Verendrye Museum 2020 Award” for their assistance over the last couple years in donating equipment and in-kind construction for repair and maintenance of the Sansarc Country School Museum and the Old Stanley County Jail repair. Karl & Eileen Fischer were also recognized for their support with a six-piece leather engraved “Verendrye Museum 2020” coaster set.
Two words: Integrity and Dedication
Those are two of several words that describe Zay Norman. Zay has completed his term as a Board Member after volunteering his service for 15 years. A recent surgery robbed him of his eyesight, yet after the unfortunate disabling incident, he continued to serve on the Board by having someone drive him 50 miles into town to attend the meetings and events. The Horseshoe plaque recognized Zay Norman for “15 years as a Board Member from 2005-20019” was presented to him by President Seiler for his continued support, even while he was dealing with a most difficult circumstance!
All plaques presented were made by Board Member Lynn Fravel.
We thank Randy Seiler for his leadership and guidance as he steps down from the President position. Wyatt Johnson was voted in to serve a three-year term. Sandy Cronin was voted in as a new Board Member for a three year term filling Norman’s seat. Brian Scott completed his three year term and was re-elected to serve another three years. The Board meets the third Wednesday of the month at 7p in the Depot meeting room and the public is always invited.
Rick Hahn, Fort Pierre Public Works Director, provided an update on the museum renovation stating the original museum was built in 1935 and did not have air conditioning but heat was provided with a coal burning stove and later a water boiler provided the heat. When the Museum was granted use of the building for a museum in 1968, the boiler did not work and therefore the Verendrye Museum did not have heat, cooling or hot water for the next 50 years! In 2018 the City of Fort Pierre and the Verendrye Museum split the bill to install a hot water heat to help volunteers better clean the building and items. The City of Fort Pierre is committed to keep the museum in Fort Pierre and rents the building to them for a dollar while the city pays the utilities. Because there is no heating or cooling, it is very hard on archival material and items. The renovation process includes demolition of the American Legion building connected to it, creating a workspace for archives, new doors, tuck pointing the outside, new windows, creating an exit that meets code, new bathrooms that are ADA compliant and a new heating and cooling system to keep the archives in a constant temperature. Renovation is projected to be completed in late 2020.
The Verendrye Museum in downtown Fort Pierre is closed and is undergoing costly building renovations. Be a community supporter! Memberships go to offset costs of the renovations. $35 for single, $500 lifetime for couples, $50 for a family, $75 for a business and $500 for a Supportable Membership.
Donations for the non-profit Verendrye Museum are accepted at the Museum’s Log Cabin Visitor Center on the corner of U.S. Hwy 83/Main Street and during the summer at the Railroad Train Depot, on the corner of U.S. Hwy 83/1st Street and 4th Avenue. Visitation to all five of the Museum’s sites-Log Cabin Visitor Center, Sansarc Country School Museum, Old Jail, Train Depot (and the Verendrye Museum at 115 Deadwood Street after renovation) are free and open to the public.
The Latest News:
Virginia Windedahl HartFort Pierre High School alumna Virginia Windedahl Hart’s (long-time Fort Pierre resident who lived in the Train Depot) is anxiously awaiting for June 26, 27, 28, 2020 to attend the Fort Pierre All School Reunion with her Countdown Clock ticking off the months/days/minutes/seconds until it’s time to head to Fort Pierre, SD. .Please join her by planning your trip to Fort Pierre; tour the Verendrye Museum’s Sansarc Country School Museum, Log Cabin Visitor Center, Old Jail and Virginia’s one-time living quarters at the Train Depot; examine the personalized bricks that decorate the Depot platform; if you attended a country school in Haakon, Stanley or Hughes County, check out the note cards to find the artist drawing of the school for a souvenir, and don’t miss the Fort Pierre Bicentennial Cookbook with your favorite meals and the Cook’s family history all in one book, then relax and share the good ‘ole day memories with your high school friends. Registration forms and the list of events can be downloaded and printed out. Go to https://stanleycounty.k12.sd.us/allschoolreunion.htm Registration forms can also be picked up at Lynn’s DakotaMart in Fort Pierre, on the bulletin board at the court house and at the Register of Deeds office, on the bulletin board at the post office, and at the log cabin.
Visit the Verendrye Museum Gift Shop on this website for prints of the historical sights, trail ride memorabilia, country school note cards and the ‘Country Schools: Past and Present’ books.
About the Museum:
The Verendrye (pronounced Var-en’-dri) Museum was established in 1968, when the Old Stanley County Historical Society and many other historically-minded individuals worked together to bring to life their vision of a place where Fort Pierre’s colorful past could be preserved and commemorated. The museum is named for French brothers Louis and Chevalier Verendrye, who explored the upper reaches of the Missouri River and in 1743 buried a lead plate on top of a nearby hill, claiming the entire Missouri River basin for France. Today the Verendrye Monument graces this same hill and is a National Historic Landmark. The lead plate is housed across the river in the South Dakota State Historical Society Museum. This is one of South Dakota’s most important historic treasures.
The Verendrye Museum resides in the heart of downtown Fort Pierre, mere blocks from the Verendrye Monument and one block from another national historic site: the spot at the confluence of the Missouri and Bad Rivers where Lewis and Clark had their historic first encounter with the Sioux. Surrounded by this rich history, the Verendrye Museum is housed in a 1930s-vintage building that used to serve as a community hall and was home to many a Saturday night dance in downtown Fort Pierre. It was the home of the American Legion for many years. The building that houses the museum was put on the National Register of Historic Places in July 2017.
As the oldest continuous settlement in South Dakota, Fort Pierre occupies a unique place in South Dakota’s history. The Verendrye Museum brings this long and colorful history to life with displays that will capture the imagination of young and old alike. Exhibits include a country store, an original telephone operator’s station and post office boxes, period displays of home furnishings and horse-drawn carriages, an extensive array of local saddles and cowboy hats, as well as countless photographs, hand-crafted items, homestead tools, Native American artifacts, guns, period wardrobe pieces, rocks and fossils. The museum also offers exhibit items relating to some of Fort Pierre’s most famous and colorful characters, i.e. Scotty Philip. While offering a wealth of information to accompany its holdings, walking through the museum retains all the charm and excitement of discovering treasures in your grandmother’s attic.
There are also a number of displays at the Log Cabin Visitor Center, Sansarc Country School Museum, which is open all year long and located at the corner of Main Street and U.S. Highway 83.