Local artist Harvey Dunn attended what is now the Harvey Dunn country school in Sioux Falls, which can be seen in the background of one of his most favored paintings, “After School”, shown below.
Harvey Dunn was born in 1883, south of Manchester, De Smet’s neighboring town. Dunn was the nephew of Nathan Dow, Grace Ingalls Dow’s husband. Grace was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s youngest sister.
Dunn received art education at South Dakota State University, the Chicago Art Institute and Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware. He settled in Tenafly, New Jersey, from 1919 until his death in 1952.
Dunn became one of the leading magazine illustrators for the Saturday Evening Post,which was a leading bimonthly American magazine at the time. He was named president of the American Society of Illustrators and was also an influential art teacher. In depth biographies of his art career are available here and here.
Although he built a life in New Jersey, he frequently returned to the prairie to rekindle his memories of pioneer days and captured its beauty in many of his paintings. He even gifted four original paintings to the library of De Smet and one to the De Smet American Legion and 37 to the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings, South Dakota. To view an online gallery of those paintings visit the South Dakota Art Museum website.
To the south of the present Dunn school location, you can walk down the old brick sidewalk that dates back to when De Smet first became a town. You can also view the old town bell, which was used in the earlier days as a curfew bell.
The school was originally located northwest of De Smet, but was moved to its present location in 2000 and restored by the Harvey Dunn Society.