Yankton's First Museum was created in 1936, as a Dakota Territorial Jubilee Project and under the direction of the Daniel Newcomb Chapter of Daughters of American Revolution. They chose the historic Council Building (built in 1862) after rescuing from an area farm. The building was moved to Riverside Park and restored. By 1953 they decided to move it to West Side Park and it was rededicated as the Dakota Territorial Museum.
On August 16, 1961, the Yankton County Historical Society was officially charted as a non-profit organization, with the mission that through the Dakota Territorial Museum, they exist to preserve, protect, educate, and interpret the history and development of the City and County of Yankton, the Missouri River valley, and Dakota Territory. Almost immediately it was decided that
the old building was to small to function as a museum and a committee was created to explore options. By the fall of 1970, a new building located right next to the museum was completed. On May 30, 1971, the new home
of the Dakota Territorial Museum was opened to the public at 610 Summit Street, Yankton.
In what will hopefully be our final move, the
Yankton County Historical Society and Dakota Territorial Museum staff and volunteers are excited for the move to the Mead Cultural Education Center.
Not only are we adding space for the ever growing museum, but we are saving a piece of Yankton's history.
Territorial Council Building (above) was built in 1862. In the early 1930s, after being found on a farm west of Yankton, it was rescued and opened as Yankton's First Museum in 1936 down by the Missouri River.
This is the dedication in 1953 after the move to West Side Park.
Meet The Current Board of Directors
The Mead Building Committee, established in 2008, is a subcommittee of the Yankton County Historical Society with the main goal of rehabilitating the Mead Building for a new home for the Dakota Territorial Museum and a cultural and events center for the surrounding communities. The Mead Building Committee is broken down into two additional subcommittees: Fundraising and Restoration.
Over 15 people serve on these committees with countless other individuals and businesses that make our project a success. Members of the committee come from a variety of backgrounds such as carpentry, business owners, historic preservationists, and financial advisors.
The committees goal is to raise $4.7 Million for the Mead Building Project and have thus far succeeded in raising over $2.1 Miillion in just over 2 years.
Completed in 1909, the Woman’s Receiving Hospital, later known as the Mead Building, was one of six constructions done on the campus of the South Dakota Hospital for the Insane after 1900.
Dr. Leonard Mead, hospital administrator, was a man of vision. Following a major fire in 1899 Dr. Mead vowed to never allow his patients lives to be in harms way again due to fire. With knowledge of architectural design, Dr. Mead designed the buildings, and five of six followed the same layout. The Mead, classified as Neo-Renaissance, has three floors in a “U” shape with large parlors, patterned terrazzo floors, large verandas and tall windows. The building was constructed from concrete blocks, which were done on campus, and faced with Sioux quartzite chips. The blocks are held together with cement produced from the former Portland Cement Company, once located in Yankton. Many patients were given the opportunity to help in the construction of the building.
Such care was put into the Mead Building and the others because Dr. Mead believed in treating the patients with dignity and compassion. Dr. Mead felt that beautiful buildings and grounds were the key to helping his patients connect with serenity in life. Through his efforts, Dr. Mead created an environment that produced a 20-25 percent rehabilitation rate.
For more than 20 years, the Mead Building sat vacant. The elements and animals left their mark on the historic building. The building has needed lots of work. In 2009, the Mead Building, along with the former Dakota Hospital for the Insane campus, was named to America’s Most Endangered Historic Places list. As long as the Mead Building Project moves forward, this beautiful piece of history will stay off the demolition list.
Leonard C. Mead was born on the family homestead, near Columbus, Wisconsin, January 18, 1856. He spent his early years after the manner of most Badger farmer boys, the summer time helping in the fields and the winter in the district school. He was enabled to complete the high-school course at Columbus, and then entered the State University at Madison, where he defrayed his expenses by teaching, having undertaken that occupation at 17 years of age, at first in country schools but after two years becoming principal of the Rio schools for three years and also for a time filling a position in the grammar department of the Columbus schools. While teaching he took up the study of medicine in the office of Dr. S. O. Burrington, of Columbus, and afterward pursued his studies in the office of Dr. Robert W. Earl, of that city. Both were able preceptors and he made such progress that in the fall of 1878 he entered Rush Medical College, from which he graduated in the spring of 1881, defraying his expenses during the period, by teaching during the vacations.
After graduation Dr. Mead established himself in practice at Good Thunder, Minnesota, but a year later removed to Elk Point, South Dakota, where during eight years he established so excellent a reputation that on the 5th of May, 1890, he was called to the assistant superintendency of the State Insane Hospital and after a year devoted to the peculiar requirements of the position was promoted to the superintendency. Up to this date, May, 1891, the hospital had been a political football, kicked about to reward political services, and for a long time had averaged one superintendent per year, the work inaugurated by one being sure to be undone by his successor. It was Dr. Mead's first business to organize the institution upon a business and professional basis and lift it from the degrading domain of party politics, and he has brought it to a position which bears favorable comparison with the leading hospitals of the kind in any country. He possesses superb executive ability and the happy faculty of directing the movement of the large number of employee and officers without friction.
His retentive memory and painstaking methods give him an intimate knowledge of each one of the many hundreds of inmates and at any moment he is prepared to recite the history and present condition of any one of them. He has made a close and critical study of nervous diseases and insanity in all of their forms, and to perfect himself in these specialties he took a post-graduate course in the New York Polyclinic, in 1899-1900, devoting particular attention to neurology and microscopy. Through long and successful experience and special preparation Dr. Mead is now recognized authority upon all nervous diseases and as such is frequently called in consultation by the ablest physicians in the west. Dr. Mead is equally as successful as a business man as he is as a physician and executive and is especially fertile in mechanical, engineering and architectural expedients and plans for the advancement of the institution. and it has been his good fortune to be permitted to put most of his plans into execution.
Under his management and as a consequence of his long official career the hospital plant has been largely remodeled and of course vastly increased in capacity, the additions made under his direction considerably exceeding the extent of the original plant. In the location and planning of new buildings he has been unhampered and his opportunity for impressing his individuality upon the place has been limited only by the ability of the state to provide means, and the state has not been
niggardly in supplying structures and all modern appliances for the most favorable treatment of its unfortunate wards.
Dr. Mead is a Mason, belonging to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and the Mystic Shrine, and he is also identified with the Ancient Order United Workmen and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is a member of the South Dakota Medical Society, the Sioux
Valley Medical Society, the American Medico-Psychological Association and other professional organizations, local and general. He was married in June, 1886, to Miss Matilda Frazer Gardener, of Sparta, Wisconsin, and their home is delightful and ideal. They have not been blessed with children, but have opened their hearts and home to a little boy and girl who are receiving all of the care and affection which devoted parents might lavish upon them.
1910 Mead Building physicians with Italian craftsman and patient helper
The Story of the DAKOTA TERRITORIAL MUSEUM AND
YANKTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
THE MEAD BUILDING
DR. LEONARD C. MEAD