Landmarks : Holy Spirit Chapel, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

Posted by Michael Zimny on

The Holy Spirit Chapel, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Corson County, is a rare example of stone, late 19th century, Gothic Revival architecture in South Dakota.

The Episcopal Chapel was built in 1923 with sandstone quarried by Native American congregants from the buttes surrounding nearby Firesteel Creek. The Chapel is one of two designed by prominent architect Alfred Morton Githens — an alum of the École des Beaux-Arts — on Native American reservations in South Dakota. The companion church is Holy Cross on Pine Ridge.

holyspirit17.JPG

In 1922, the New York-based Society of the Double Temple asked Githens to design the two churches as a memorial to one of their members, Mrs. George Cabbot Ward, who had passed away. Mrs. Ward was a longtime friend and supporter of Bishop Hobart Hare of South Dakota, the originator of the Niobrara Cross which is the Chapel's most prominent feature.       

Of the two, Holy Spirit more resembles its original state. Construction at Holy Spirit was supervised by Frank Waggoner of Keldron. The Chapel has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as “representative work of a master architect.”

The design is almost deceptively spartan, dominated by the bas-relief Niobrara cross emblazoned on the front facade.

holyspirit14.JPG

Bishop Hare designed the Niobrara Cross to give something meaningful to Native American congregants upon being confirmed. Paper certificates held little value for parishioners who did not read English or Latin. Silver tokens of the cross could be understood and appreciated across language barriers. The Niobrara Cross is still given to confirmed Episcopals in the Diocese of South Dakota, and is now given to any confirmed parishioner who would receive one, regardless of ethnic heritage.

The Holy  Spirit Chapel sits in a depression between buttes to the West and downhill slopes to Firesteel Creek in the East, on ranch land that is now very sparsely populated. The absence of any improved roads, or any evidence they were there before, is a testament to the labor that built this church. The effort just to attend is more than most functions in today's world demand.

holyspirit22.JPG

The Chapel's isolation may have helped preserve it in a pristine state however, and it was lovingly restored in 2004 through the efforts of the Timber Lake and Area Historical society, members of the Waggoner family, the South Dakota State Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 

holyspirit4.JPG

Related

Landmarks : Trinity Church in Kimball 

Landmarks : St. Peter's Grotto in Farmer; Hanson County, South Dakota

subscribe to sdpb email updates food blog link image learning blog link image living blog link news and information blog link science and technology blog link sports blog link image

Related content from SDPB Radio - Art

In The Moment ... The Hob Menace With Angela Swedberg

In The Moment ... September 18, 2017 Show 179 Hour 2 When you visit a museum you expect authenticity from the exhibitions, art, and artifacts. Angela Swedberg is a...

In The Moment ... On The Other Hand With Kevin Woster

In The Moment ... September 14, 2017 Show 177 Hour 1 Arthur C. Jones is a professor in the department of musicology,...

In The Moment ... The Future – And Past – Of Racing In Huron

In The Moment ... September 1, 2017 Show 169 Hour 1 Sioux Falls based singer/songwriter Meriweather Raindelay is...

In The Moment ... Law School Debate: Vermillion Or Sioux Falls?

In The Moment ... August 8, 2017 Show 151 Hour 1 Where should we put the state's only law school? Declining...

Books

In The Moment ... Author Jan Karon And A Trip To Mitford

In The Moment ... September 19, 2017 Show 180 Hour 2 If you've ever been to Mitford, you might not want to leave...

In The Moment ... Moment In Sound With Chad Konrad

In The Moment ... September 8, 2017 Show 173 Hour 1 We begin the program with this week's Moment in Sound. You can...

In The Moment ... South Dakota Festival Of Books

In The Moment ... August 14, 2017 Show 155 Hour 2 Get ready to head for the Hills. In the Moment is in Deadwood for...

In The Moment ... Lifting The Alzheimer’s Stigma

In The Moment ... August 10, 2017 Show 153 Hour 1 The death of musician Glen Campbell this week has many South...

Music

In The Moment ... Moment In Sound With Jami Lynn

In The Moment ... September 15, 2017 Show 178 Hour 1 Jami Lynn is essential listening in South Dakota and beyond...

In The Moment ... Dakota Political Junkies On Division In State GOP

In The Moment ... September 13, 2017 Show 176 Hour 2 Do divisions within a state political party impact you? What's...

In The Moment ... Moment In Sound With Chad Konrad

In The Moment ... September 8, 2017 Show 173 Hour 1 We begin the program with this week's Moment in Sound. You can...

In The Moment ... USD Law School Update

In The Moment ... September 7, 2017 Show 172 Hour 1 Should the Law School at the University of South Dakota relocate...

Theater

In The Moment ... Alex Meyer's Scenic Design

In The Moment ... May 10, 2017 Show 090 Hour 2 Alex Meyer. He's a junior art and theater major at Augustana College...

In The Moment ... Remembering Vietnam On Horseback

In The Moment ... May 9, 2017 Show 089 Hour 2 Colt Romberger’s father served in Vietnam, and it changed his life...

Dakota Midday: S.F. Washington's "Wizard Of Oz"

South Dakota high schools produce a variety of plays each year. This week the Washington High School drama...

Dakota Midday: Lisa McNulty On Female Artists

The Off-Broadway Women's Project Theater is the oldest and largest theater company that promotes women artists in...