Columbus College/Royal C. Johnson's Veterans Administration

2501 W. 22nd St.

It began its life as a Catholic boys' boarding school, but since 1948 it's been sanctuary to America's fighting men and women.

Columbus College 1927

It began its life in 1909 in Chamberlain, SD as a Catholic all-male prep school, high school, and college. It operated there for 12 years until Bishop Thomas O' Gorman lured the institution to Sioux Falls. In September of 1921, the college re-opened on a 60 acre piece of land, building dormitories, classrooms and other necessaries in the Collegiate Gothic style.

 

Heating Plant and GymnasiumRemember the giant smokestack? That was the exhaust for the college's heating plant, situated right next to the gymnasium as you see here. I don't think the smokestack is still there, or if it is, it was removed from Google Earth for mysterious reasons.

The Columbus College Mariners dominated the South Dakota intercollegiate conference, in 1926 taking the league championship in football, basketball, and track.

 

 

 

 

Columbus CollegeHere's a great Curt Teich card from way back when. Records show it was ordered by Woolworth's five and dime. I paid more for mine. The front of this building is not as easy to see these days as it's covered in trees and somewhat overpowered by the new front of the V. A. building which it became a part of.

 

 

 

 

 

An Argus Leader cookbook had an ad from Columbus College which listed the following (mostly verbatim):

Boarding and day school for young men

Accredited high school

College department leading to degree

Fully accredited normal course

Pre-Law, Pre-Engineering, Pre-Medical, Pre-Dental, and Pre-Commerce Courses

(later expanded to include TV/VCR Repair, Child Daycare, and Computer Programming)

Opportunity for advanced work in arts Letters and Science

Departments of dramatic art, forensics (not CSI), vocal and instrumental music

All departments of athletics - Examine our records in football, basketball and track

Winning games our specialty

Classes in physical training for all students

Ideal location, picturesque scenes and a wholesome environment

 

 

In 1929 Columbus College Closed, an early victim of the Great Depression. It remained dormant for nearly twenty years when the US Government purchased it to be used as it's Veterans Memorial Hospital.

 

VA Building

Here we see the Royal C. Johnson Veterans Memorial Hospital. This is another Curt Teich card printed in 1948 for Dakota news, about six months before the VA opened for business. You can see the aforementioned smokestack behind the main building and the original Columbia College building to the right, not yet obscured by trees.

 

 

 

 

 

V.A. BuildingThis card (another Curt Teich) was printed in 1961, and states the hospital was opened for business in July 1949, serves 150,000 vets in the quad-state area, has 272 beds and cost the government $5million.

Uncle Sam bought Columbus College during World War II and began building the main building seen here in 1946. It still stands and serves our soldiers to this day.

 

 

 

Page Updated: 11/12/2011

Sources include:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota - A Pictorial History

The historical marker near 22nd and Lincoln.

The postcards pictured here and my twisted imagination.

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