At the present site of City Hall, there was an impressive building, now lost to the sands of time.
In 1898 the Sioux Falls Business Men's League talked the National Butter Makers' Association into holding their convention in Sioux Falls early the next year. With the cream of America's dairy producers heading to town, Sioux Falls needed a venue to contain them and their creamy merriment. In six months they threw together this beautiful building at 9th and Dakota where City Hall now stands.
The building's architect was Wallace Dow, and though not as intricate as the Courthouse or Penitentiary, it was still an impressive presence in downtown Sioux Falls.
The building was ready in time for the Butter Makers, though not completely finished.
When the city established its first full-time fire department in 1900, they housed the fire equipment in the city auditorium. The bell that now stands before the Central Fire Station once rang from the top of the City Auditorium. Before that it rang from the top of a stand-alone wooden tower until it was struck by lightning. I'm guessing that it rang pretty well when the lightning struck, but that's just a guess.
Here are Sioux Falls' own posing on Dakota in front of the City Auditorium. The north side of the Auditorium was used to house the a fire chief’s buggy, a Silsby Steamer water pump, a combined hook and ladder truck and hose wagon, seven horses and nine men.
Those engines had some real horse power! The Fire Department worked out of the City Auditorium until 1912 when the Central Fire Station was built at 9th and Minnesota.
The City Auditorium and nearby Germainia Hall were razed to make way for the new City hall in 1934 and 1935. City hall is a nice building with plenty of marble, but in my opinion, it doesn't really compare to the Auditorium. I may play favorites to the older structure, but I'd cry bloody murder if they wanted to tear down City Hall. Don't you think it's extra Americanny with two US flags?
Page Updated: 04/13/2014
Much of the info on this page was gleaned from:
Sioux Falls, South Dakota A Pictorial History by Gary D. Olson and Erik L. Olson
The wonderful picture of the horses and engines is from Greater Sioux Falls, a magazine
once published by the Chamber of Commerce. Thanks to Mark for providing that!