Mead Building

Mead Building

The Mead Building was completed in 1909, and is located on the southern side of the Human Services Campus north of Yankton, South Dakota.  Named for and built by Dr. Leonard C. Mead, this building is a monument to Dr. Mead’s progressive attitude towards the positive treatment of mentally ill people.  Dr. Mead felt that beautiful grounds and buildings were the key to helping his patients connect with some serenity in life.  Because of his talented architectural abilities and assistance from his patients, Dr. Mead was able to create an environment that produced a 20 to 25% rehabilitation rate at the Human Services Center. 

Mead West Hall
Mead West Hall
The Yankton County Historical Society (YCHS) has unanimously decided to set up a special committee to review the possibilities of restoring the Mead Building on the Human Services Center campus.  Initial review of the building and its structure has shown that the building would suite new museum building needs for the historical society.  YCHS feels that the Mead building is a world-class building that will attract many visitors to Yankton. 


Governor Daugaard Gives Green Light On Mead

Otto Ullrich Memorial Trust Endows Yankton County Historical Society’s Mead Project

Now Available at the Dakota Territorial Museum Gift Shop:

Dakota Hospital for the Insane by Susan Miles
$7.00 Including tax

Sorry, the YCHS Membership Discount is not available for this book, HOWEVER, the 20% discount is available for all other gift shop items!!



South Dakota Human Services Center Oral History Project
By Susan Miles

After completing research and a booklet about the history of the Dakota Hospital for the Insane, Susan Miles has decided to take the project one step further and offer an opportunity for current and past employees of the campus to share their stories.

Starting in January 2012, Miles will begin collecting oral histories for a new booklet that will tell the story of the Hospital in the words of those that were vital to its operations, the employees.

If you or anyone you know worked at the South Dakota Human Services Center and is willing to share your experiences, please contact the Dakota Territorial Museum at 605-665-3898, and make an appointment. Interviews will be conducted in the Dakota Territorial Museum Conference Room or if you are unable to come to the Museum, arrangements can be made for Miles to come to you.

We are really excited about Susan’s plans and ongoing efforts to collect and protect the history of the oldest public institution in the Dakota Territory.
Thank You Susan!


Check out the Mead Building's Wish List.


Mead - A Year in Review
A lot of changes have taken place at the Mead Building over the last 12 months. Early 2013, we saw the completion of the roof. Over the next few months we made preparations to start on Phase II of the rehabilitation project — the interior walls and windows. By late August, we received the go ahead and training began for the inmate crew from the Yankton Trusty Unit. By September workers were inside getting busy on scraping paint and working on the windows. In October, we saw the most dramatic change when the washrooms in the hallway behind the staircase were removed. It really opened up the area and made way for the future elevator.  In November, we welcomed back Nancy Losacker of Vermillion and she did more work to uncover hidden artwork and stenciling. As a result of her work in the basement, two more murals were uncovered.
As of the end of December, much of the peeling paint has been removed and primer paint applied to the first and second floors and basement — work will soon continue on the third floor. The workers also installed a deck in the foyer over the staircase so the crew can work safely on the ceiling. The place is really looking different and we can’t wait to be able to show it off. Presently, there are no plans for an open house, but you never know when one may be scheduled.

Thank you to all of our workers, volunteers and supporters of the Mead Building Project. Thank You To Our Corporate SponsorsKopetsky’s Ace Hardware, Mead Lumber, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, Yankton Medical Clinic, and First Dakota National Bank. Thank you also to Kaiser Heating & Cooling, Allen Electric, Sherwin Williams, Larry’s Heating & Cooling, and Northwestern Energy.

Current Developments:


· In the last month, work has been steady on the Lead Project at the Mead Building. AMI Environmental Services, Inc., has been working closely with the Mead crew to ensure safety is a priority. A clean room was constructed just inside the main entrance. Lights were placed in once dark hallways. Ben Brunick with Chalkstone Woodworking has been busy setting up shop at Mead as he prepares to start on the windows. It has definitely been a team effort to get this phase underway. During this phase, the Mead Committee does ask that you keep your distance from the building. We want to ensure everyone’s safety.

Thank You To Our Corporate Sponsors – Kopetsky’s Ace Hardware, Mead Lumber, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, Yankton Medical Clinic, and First Dakota National Bank.

· Come See the Beautiful Museum Campus - Over the past couple of months we have seen some wonderful improvements going on around campus. We can’t thank our volunteer, John Ogden, or the inmates from the Federal Prison Camp enough. These men have spent a lot of time painting and planting flowers. We are hearing a lot of great compliments from visitors. Stop by the museum or check out our Facebook page.

· YCHS Receives DAR Grant for Mead Steps
The Yankton County Historical Society has received a $5,000 grant from the Mary Chilton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
The grant will be used for the replication of the Mead Building’s three main access points. Due to the years of neglect, the existing masonry steps could not be restored. The plan is to recreate the west and south steps with an appropriate hand railing that meets the standards of both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The steps on the east side will be replaced with a handicap accessible ramp that will land adjacent to the handicap parking on that side of the Mead Building.

· With the roof now complete, plans are underway to start in April on the interior of the building. The next phase will include resolving the lead-based paint issue and starting on the windows. The Open House held in February was a huge success. More than 860 people attended the event and toured
the building. Many in attendance had never toured the building before, so it was great to raise that level of awareness. There are still windows available for anyone wanting to help preserve history. There are varying price ranges and payment options. Call the Dakota Territorial Museum for more information, at 605-665-3898.

· Stonebrook Roofing, Inc. of Yankton started work on the Mead Building Roof on June 25, 2012. Please share the good news with your friends and family.
Now that construction has begun, we ask that onlookers keep short distance away to allow the contractors to work safely.

· Representatives of Mead Building Committee continue to work directly with Governor Daugaard’s office to develop a partnership to use inmate labor to assist restoration work on the Mead Building. State inmates will be helpful in window and door restorations as well as hands- on work with the building.

· The YCHS was awarded the City of Deadwood Grant for $25,000, which will be used toward building repairs. The Mead Building Committee is currently meeting with multiple roofing companies to find the best options to repair the roof. Completion of the roof repair is expected by Fall of 2011.

· In preparation for the return of the architectural firm Bahr, Hacker, and Vermeer of Omaha, the YCHS is continuing to develop their exhibit and space layouts in the new structure so that preparations can be done to make way for required mechanical upgrades and handicap accessibility. Historic preservation requirements will continue to be followed with the supervision of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in Pierre, as work proceeds.

· Mead Building Museum and Cultural Center Project continues to make headway as we prepare for spring projects in 2011.  The Mead Building Committee has determined that interior work will be minimal till all of the roof damage has been repaired.  Majority of the roof is in good condition but the nails holding the tiles in place are rusting allowing clay tiles to fall and water to infiltrate the building.  

In November, the State of South Dakota helped with Mead’s preservation by removing two large trees to the west of the building.  Debris from the overgrown tree limbs were causing problems for the built-in gutters on Mead’s verandas.  

Until the snow melts and spring arrives, the Mead Building Committee is working on securing funding for Spring projects through private donations and grants.   

· September 25, 2010: Norbert Vinatieri of Whittier, California (Grandson of General George Custer’s Band Leader Felix Vinatieri of Yankton) visited the Mead Building with his son Joseph Vinatieri. Norbert graciously donated $6,000 in honor of the Norbert Vinatieri Family to the Mead Building. Thank you Norbert, your contribution is greatly appreciated.

· September 15, 2010: Results of the This Place Matters Community Challenge revealed that the Mead Building came in number 5 with 120 locations competing nation wide. Although we did not win any money, the local, state, and national recognition and support was overwhelming and very good for the project with over 2200 votes.

· September 1, 2010: The South Dakota Community Foundation awarded the Yankton County Historical Society a South Dakota Non-Profit Enhancement Grant in the amount of $5,000 for additional part-time staff at the Dakota Territorial Museum. This additional staff is to take over basic office duties to free up the Director’s time for the Mead Building Project.

· May 2010: Grant awarded from the South Dakota Questers Organization for hands-on work on Mead’s flat roof on the north central part of the building. Work was completed by Donna Freng.

· In October 2008, The Yankton County Historical Society (YCHS) had a positive architectural study and an engineering analysis done on the building. It was at this time that the project was deemed structurally sound and still economically feasible to move forward. A capital campaign consultant is being sought and individuals interested in making financial contributions to the Mead Building Project are asked to contact the Dakota Territorial Museum. Once wild animals are removed from the building and it is secured, public cleanup days will be scheduled to help with cosmetic fixes such as mopping, painting, etc.

Related Links:

Mead Building Website

HSC Campus Listed on America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Mead Building Community Challenge Results

Dakota Territorial Museum Facebook Page

Show Your Support:

Please show your support for YCHS saving Mead by becoming a member.  Call Crystal Nelson at 605-665-3898 for more details or complete a membership form and mail it to the museum.

Artistic Designs
Undamaged Artistic Designs on the Walls in the Back Hallways.

Crystal Nelson, Director
Dakota Territorial Museum
610 Summit St.
Yankton, SD 57078
(605) 665-3898

The Mead Building Committee would like to encourage supporters of saving Mead and other buildings at the Human Services Center to contact their local legislators to garner their support in allowing time for feasibility studies to be done on the buildings before they are demolished.   You can find legislators (Jean Hunhoff, Charlii Gilson, and Nick Moser) email addresses at

Mead Staircase
Mead Staircase

Mead Building Committee Members

Jim Means, Committee Chairman 665-4923 or 665-2972

Robert Gehm
320 E. 25th Street, Yankton         661-2400

Dr. Mal Jameson
1200 Maple, Yankton                 665-2979

Linda Stephenson
503 Pine St, Yankton                 665-4331 or 665-0080

Lois Varvel
313 Pine St., Yankton                665-5985

Tom Steinbach
407 Pine St., Yankton                665-1872 / 668-8496 (w)

Kathie Gerstner
702 W. 11th St, Yankton            665-4885

Crystal Nelson, Museum Director
610 Summit St, Yankton            665-3898 / 280-2157

Paul Lowrie
Yankton                                    660-1906

Kathy Greeneway                      665-4940 or 661-8206

Greg Henderson                        665-4408 or 665-8996

Jim Nyberg
Yankton                                    665-5662

Donna Freng
Yankton                                    260-0074