Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library

The history of the library dates back to the beginning of De Smet. The Loftus Store was perhaps the first lending library in town. The photo below is of Main Street facing southwest. The Loftus Store is labeled. Main Street SW 1 Front

Mr. Loftus was a well-known merchant of De Smet and he valued books. These books were part of the lending library at the Loftus Store and are now part of the society’s artifact collection.

photo photo copy photo copy 2

The Mother’s Club helped to establish a lending library in 1926 by contacting the South Dakota State Library for help. Advice was given, and residents and club members made the first book donation. The books were circulated from members’ homes, but by 1928, this method was replaced with a library corner in Brewer’s Variety Store. The photo below is also of Main Street facing southwest. This photo shows the Golden Rule as the fourth building from the right. It is believed that this building was the Brewers’ store at one time.Main Street SW 3 Front 1916

During the days of the Great Depression, the library expanded. The library took residence in then, new City Hall, in August, 1937. The library would remain in this location for thirty-one years.

By the 1960’s, the library had outgrown the City Hall location. Donation of land by two prominent families of De Smet and private donations started a move to build a new library in the present location. This was the site of the railroad park. Construction was completed in 1968. The library was dedicated as the Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library.

Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library

The library has long been recognized as a repository of history. Five original Harvey Dunn paintings adorn the walls. Dunn was an illustrator and painter of the pioneer west and he grew up in nearby Manchester, South Dakota. He was well known for his prairie paintings that showcased the South Dakota weather, seasons, farming, and pioneer way of life. Unlike most painters of that era, Dunn painted both women and men of the early west. Just inside the door, visitors can see many original artifacts of the Wilder Memorial Society. The De Smet News is also available on microfilm.

Dakota Woman, Harvey Dunn – Dakota Discovery Museum

This post is part of a series: A Virtual Tour of “The Little Town on the Prairie.” If you are new to the series and would like to start at the beginning of the tour, please click here!


3 comments on “Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library

  1. Connie in Colorado says:

    As a retired school librarian who still works a bit at the local public library, I found this article informative with history of so many small town library beginnings. Of course, THIS particular little town on the prairie has my focus and I’ve used the Meyer Library there almost every time I’ve visited over 25 years.
    I noted the Golden Rule Store on Main/Calumet because of its connections with where I live: Longmont, Colorado. The first Golden Rule stores were established and franchised from here by T. M. Callahan. His/our little claim to fame is that Longmont was where J. C. Penney got his start with Callahan’s Golden Rule Store. The Callahans also donated numerous books to begin the children’s dept. at our local library (where I work today). I think that’s a nice overlap that our little towns share.
    Thanks for posting!
    Connie in Colorado

  2. Connie in Colorado says:

    One correction to your photo directions: both show looking southwest and the Golden Rule Store is the 5th building from the right, two doors down from Loftus. Enjoy!

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