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Supreme Court Moves into New Wooden Capitol in 1891

In 1891, the legislature approved $7,000 to build an east wing addition to the wooden capital in order to provide office space for the Supreme Court and other state officers. The two-story, fifty-foot by sixty-foot addition was completed on October 1, 1891. However, the new addition did not include a courtroom. Therefore, the Supreme Court held its first session in the capital in the senate chamber on October 13, 1891, with sixty-two cases on its calendar. Both the house and senate chambers were available for official and private use because the legislature met only once every two years for sixty days. Frequently, the State Supreme Court was in session downstairs in the senate chamber while the Federal Court was in session upstairs in the house chamber.

South Dakota's Wooden Capitol
South Dakota's wooden capitol showing the new sixty-foot east wing addition on the right side of the photograph. The South Dakota Supreme Court moved into the addition in 1891 and remained there until completion of the new capitol in 1910.

New Stone Capitol Becomes Third Location of Supreme Court
After the capital fights of 1889, 1890, and 1904, all won by Pierre, the 1905 legislature authorized the construction of a new stone capitol. The capitol would be paid for by monies obtained from the sale of public lands owned by the state. The legislature, believing these lands would sell slowly, decided that the east wing of the capitol should be built first and house the Supreme Court. The east wing foundation was finished in the fall of 1905. The entire capitol was completed in 1910.

Capitol building in construction
Capitol building in construction. In the background is east wing with exposed area showing site of current courtroom, law library, and justices' apartments.

Newly completed Supreme Court
Newly completed Supreme Court Chamber in the new capital before placement of mural. The room was decorated in browns, tans, and golds, The furniture consisted of polished mahogany with matching draperies and carpet.

mural - Charles Hollaway
Charles Halloway, a young artist from Chicago, painted the mural "Gate of Justice" for the Supreme Court Chamber. He also painted the murals for the house and senate chambers.

South Dakota's New Capitol
South Dakota's new capitol was completed and dedicated in June of 1910.

Remodeling and Restoration of the Supreme Court Chamber

Remodelled Supreme Court Chamber - 1952
To obtain a modern look, the Supreme Court Chamber was remodeled in 1952. The ceilings were lowered with acoustical tile, the walls were covered with paneling, and fluorescent lights were installed.

Restored Supreme Court Chamber - 1979
In 1979, the Supreme Court Chamber was restored by removing the acoustical tile and paneling, and by repainting and refinishing all the walls and furniture to match the original color and design as closely as possible.


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