South Dakota State News
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2022
CONTACT: Kevin Larsen, media coordinator, 605-773-6000, [email protected]
Stidworthy-Kemper House in Turner County Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
PIERRE, SD — The Stidworthy-Kemper House in Viborg has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Register is the official federal list of properties identified as significant to American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. The State Historic Preservation Office of the State Historical Society works in conjunction with the National Park Service, which oversees the National Registry program, to list properties.
The Stidworthy-Kemper House in Turner County is a two-and-a-half-storey square, Colonial Revival wood-frame house built in 1910-1911. The house was originally built as a residence, initially for CH and Agneta Olsen, and was later converted to a hospital in 1942. The house contains many significant architectural features, including a rough-faced Sioux quartzite stone foundation, a full-width one-story open porch and a flared hipped roof. The interior also features historic elements, such as pocket doors, two-button light switches, and historic and restored trim moldings.
In October 1918, the house was sold by the Olsens to Dr. George H. Stidworthy. Stidworthy was originally from Illinois and attended medical school at Sioux City College of Medicine. While in Viborg, his medical practice included house calls, and he traveled by horse and buggy to rural areas to visit patients. During particularly difficult times such as epidemics and the Great Depression, Stidworthy often took food as payment and had to sleep in the buggy between patient visits as he was very busy. It has served Viborg and the surrounding community for almost 40 years.
In 1937, Dr. Carlos E. Kemper took over the practice, and in 1942 Kemper began the process of converting the house into an official hospital. This renovation provided additional services and more space for patients than Viborg and the rest of the county had ever had before. The first floor has become a reception area, an x-ray room, a laboratory, a kitchen and a medical office. The second floor and attic were used for patient beds, an obstetrics suite and a nursery. Surgical operations took place wherever they could find space. In the 1992 Viborg Centennial story, Dr. Stidworthy and Dr. Kemper were credited with establishing Viborg as the medical center for Turner County, and this house is a representation of that history and their dedication.
“South Dakota has a very rich history and culture ranging from prehistoric Indian villages, unique farmers’ cabins and businesses to richly detailed historic neighborhoods – all of which are wonderful testaments to our state,” said Ted M. Spencer , officer and director of state historic preservation. of the State Historic Preservation Office.
Buildings, sites, structures, and objects that are at least fifty years old and possessing historical significance may qualify for the National Register, in accordance with National Park Service guidelines. Properties must also retain their historic location, design, materials and association. Listing in the National Registry imposes no restrictions on private owners by the federal government.
For more information about the National Register or other historic preservation programs, contact the State Historic Preservation Office at the Cultural Heritage Center, 900 Governors Drive, Stone, SD 57501-2217; phone 605-773-3458 or website history.sd.gov/Preservation (click National Register of Historic Places in the right column).
About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, archives, and offices for historic preservation, publishing, and administration/development. Call 605-773-3458 or visit history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.