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

Posted by Michael Zimny on

St. Peter’s Grotto in Farmer, South Dakota is a devotional reminder of the town’s peak development in the 1920’s, and of the German Catholics who emigrated to Hanson County, beginning in the late 19th century, from the rural Eifel region of then-Prussia. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

stpetersgrotto15.JPG

The grotto was designed and constructed by parish priest Father Scheier between the years 1926 and 1933. The unique-to-the-region, Byzantine-style design incorporates a wide range of building and decorative materials, including rock carved from the Badlands and Black Hills, petrified wood from North Dakota, marble from Tennessee, seashells from Hawaii and a single stone from the Catacombs of Callixtus in Rome.

Farmer once had a thriving agriculture-based economy. According to documents filed by the South Dakota State Historical Preservation Office, “in 1926, the town boasted of four elevators, two banks, three grocery stores and a hotel, along with other support businesses.”

stpetersgrotto11.JPG

The town was hard hit by the Great Depression and has never yet re-developed to the level of 1926. The grotto suffered a lack of maintenance after the parish grade school closed its doors in 1959, leading to the headline “The Grotto: Paradise on the Prairie Loses Luster Over the Years,” in a 1986 Argus Leader feature.

stpetersgrotto19.JPG

When the South Dakota State Historical Society won recognition for it on the National Register, the funding was provided to restore the grotto to its former state of serene beauty, and so it stands as a kind of meditative focal point in the quiet heart of Farmer.

Related

Landmarks: The Citizens State Bank of Henry

Landmarks: Ken Bell's Conversation Pieces on US HWY 212

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

Artist Deborah Mitchell: Gardens I've Known

In The Moment ... January 4, 2017 Show 249 Hour 2 It's always a delight to catch up with artist Deborah Mitchell...

Images Of The Past

In The Moment ... December 18, 2017 Show 242 Hour 2 We talk with Conor McMahon, Chief Curator, U.S. Department of...

"Loving Vincent" Comes To Sioux Falls

In The Moment ... November 29, 2017 Show 229 Hour 1 Cinema Falls brings the film "Loving Vincent" to Sioux Falls. We'...

Paul Horsted’s Epic National Parks Project

In The Moment ... November 22, 2017 Show 226 Hour 1 Paul Horsted has been making photographs for more than 35 years....

Books

SDPB's Jackie Hendry Reviews John Green's "Turtles All The Way Down"

Author John Green's tour bus rolled through South Dakota this fall. He spent time with librarians, readers, and...

Awkwardly Awesome Jason Freeman

In The Moment ... December 21, 2017 Show 245 Hour 2 Jason Freeman is the author of "Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My...

Caroline Fraser

In The Moment ... December 18, 2017 Show 242 Hour 1 The "New York Times" recently named "Prairie Fires: The American...

Marta McDowell

In The Moment ... December 18, 2017 Show 242 Hour 1 Marta McDowell looks takes a fresh look at Laura Ingalls Wilder...

Music

Moment In Sound With Brian Hoffman

In The Moment ... January 12, 2017 Show 255 Hour 1 Singer / songwriter Brian Hoffman joins us for this week's Moment...

Songs From Throughout American History With Marla Fodgerud And William Wieland

In The Moment ... January 9, 2017 Show 252 Hour 2 This Thursday at 7:30 p.m. our next guests present a lecture...

Images Of The Past: The Dubious Character Of Inez Sexton

In The Moment ... January 8, 2017 Show 251 Hour 2 This week's Images of the Past is a particularly timely look at...

Eliza Blue's December Postcard From The Prairie

In The Moment ... December 22, 2017 Show 246 Hour 1 Eliza Blue's December Postcard from the Prairie is a look...

Theater

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...

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...