Landmarks : Holy Spirit Chapel, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

Last Updated 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

Art That Takes You Home

In The Moment ... July 18, 2018 Show 381 Hour 2 Jon Crane creates "Art that Takes You Home." After a tour at...

Renowned Artists Visit Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute

In The Moment ... June 19, 2018 Show 361 Hour 2 Art can be meditation, expression, activism, and escape. It can also...

Eagle Butte Artists Learn Tips To Flourish

Artists who turn their passion into a business venture can find it a challenge. They need to figure out the details...

2018 Sculpture Walk Installation

In The Moment ... May 2, 2018 Show 328 Hour 2 Visitors to Sioux Falls will soon be able to stand beneath a giant...

Books

Read, Baby, Read: What's America's Best-Loved Novel?

In The Moment ... May 22, 2018 Show 342 Hour 1 What's America's best-loved novel? You get to decide. PBS launches...

Author Kirk Wallace Johnson's "The Feather Thief"

In the Moment ... May 1, 2018 Show 327 Hour 1 The centuries-old art of salmon fishing fly-tying has a dark side. It...

Jane Yolen Celebrates #Yolen365 And Counting

In The Moment ... April 26, 2018 Show 324 Hour 1 In March, author Jane Yolen released her 365th book. That means you...

Christine Stewart: 41st Great Plains Writers Conference

In The Moment ... March 21, 2018 Show 301 Hour 2 The 41st Great Plains Writers Conference kicks off on March 23 at...

Music

Fun Approach To Music Theory

Andrew Rogers – in home music lessons designed for children and young adults. Uses a unique teaching style that...

The Literary Style of Reina del Cid

Reina del Cid kicks off her summer tour with a stop in Sioux Falls at the Icon Lounge. She joins SDPB's Lori Walsh...

Eric Johnson Returns For Black Hills Playhouse Opener

In The Moment ... May 29, 2018 Show 346 Hour 2 Leave the ordinary behind at this year's Black Hills Playhouse Season...

The Claudette's: Making Music In The Midst Of Crisis

In The Moment ... May 24, 2018 Show 344 Hour 1 The Claudettes play Total Drag Records in Sioux Falls, Saturday, May...

Theater

Broadway Choreographer Chet Walker

In the Moment ... April 9, 2018 Show 311 Hour 1 The University of South Dakota Theater Department presents "Cabaret"...

Images of the Past: Stage To Screen

In The Moment ... November 27, 2017 Show 227 Hour 2 A new exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum tells the story of...

Personalities: From Huron High to Broadway

Singer, actor, and teacher Joseph Mahowald graduated from Huron High School in 1977. He went on to study music and...

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...