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Deadwood Trust Opposes Move of Historic Fountain House

Deadwood is astir over another old building threatened by development. Optima LLC, which owns Cadillac Jacks and Springhill Suites on the north end of Deadwood, wants to move the Fountain House from its property along Main Street, across from the Days of '76 Museum, down the street about a mile and a half, to just past where Sherman Street bends southwest, near the head of the Mickelson Trail.

This move wouldn't be a big deal if the Fountain House weren't a historic house built in 1890. The Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission is meeting this evening to discuss whether moving the Fountain House to the more southerly location will negatively impact the historic nature of the neighborhood.

The Deadwood Trust for Historic Preservation doesn't think the move is a good idea. They are filing this letter with the DHPC this evening to protest the move. They say the Fountain House should stay put. The Deadwood Trust asks the DHPC to reject Optima's request because a year ago, in its original application to move the house, Optima contended that the building couldn't be used for commercial purposes, but Optima now supports the application for this move by contending that the building can be used for commercial purposes.

A February 2014 letter (included in the Deadwood Trust's communication to the DHPC tonight) from CPA Paul J. Thorstenson to Optima manager Paul Bradsky of Rapid City doesn't say the Fountain House is unusable for commercial purposes. CPA Thorstenson says says that the best commercial use for the Fountain property is a parking lot and that getting a return on investment from using the house in its current location would require charging renters three times the fair market value. If my impression of town serves me properly, parking isn't nearly as tight at the south end of Sherman, away from the big Main Street casinos.

But the Deadwood Trust still has a case to make. The entire city of Deadwood is a National Historic Landmark. Every building Deadwood lets deteriorate into uselessness, every building the casinos knock down for parking, takes away history and leaves Deadwood a little less unique and little more like every place else.


  1. Kerry Ruth 2015.01.14

    Unanimous to move the Fountain House.

  2. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.14

    If Deadwood keeps this stuff up they'll lose that historic status and any sense of what makes Deadwood unique and worth visiting. However, Greed has myopic eyesight.

  3. jerry 2015.01.14

    The City should use the home for dorm type lodging for the workers in Deadwood. That way the city could keep its charm, the building could be upgraded and workers would have lodging at affordable prices. Everyone wins at jerry's house. Problem solved.

  4. Nick Nemec 2015.01.15

    Deadwood is slowly becoming a place I don't care to go to. Less and less of the old time flavor, more and more of a homogenized North American casino flavor, plus the food sucks. There are much better things for every age and ability to do in the Hills than go to Deadwood.

  5. JeniW 2015.01.15

    Deadwood seems to be evolving to where it once was, a place to booze, gamble, shoot-outs (hopefully not the shoot-outs,) and "call girls." How more historic can it get?

    The only real difference that back in the days the horsepower consisted of flesh instead of metal and plastic.

    Several years ago I thought the only thing I thought was worth visiting was the graveyard where all those legendary characters are buried.

  6. Kerry Ruth 2015.01.15

    The argument for moving is "they need parking". We live in a gulch, we ALL need parking!

  7. larry kurtz 2015.01.15

    Hey guess what the ninth most important cash crop in South Dakota is.

    Tribes can do this. Deadwood and tribal gaming are inextricably linked: the South Dakota Legislature should be kept out of the cannabis loop completely unless Deadwood chooses to be the test bed off-reservation. Addiction? After some guy named Janklow closed the brothels in Deadwood for political gain to cover up his being implicated in the death of Jancita Eagle Deer, Bill Walsh and Tom Blair pressed a five-dollar bet limit to preserve historic Deadwood because the Syndicate Building burned to the ground.

    If Democrats won't do it Republican legislator Steve Hickey can write a bill that would adopt Minnesota's medical cannabis law worthy of FDA scrutiny, legalize for adults then allow Deadwood and the tribes grow and distribute under a compact putting the gaming commission to tax and regulate?

  8. leslie 2015.01.15

    gambling and historic preservation uphill from denver recently struck me as more sterile than tailings from mining claims on "stolen" lands of our founding indians. capitalism (bradsky, thorstenson et al.) doesn't work for the public trying to preserve pesky and unfortunate history.

    they capitalized on uniqueness but can't be asked to be stewards of their bonanza. kudos to DHPC'S efforts but if it was unanimous to move, there may be nothing left to save.

    maybe deadwood will get its town back when the "gold" plays out, short-timers leave to sack another place, and up in lead, the de-watered hole will prevail. say, who owns that water?

    integrity, science. common themes.

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