Arlo Levisen is the President of the Grant County Historical Society. He has extensive knowledge on the history of the area, including: Grant County History, Big Stone Lake History, the History of the Holland Grist Mill, the History of the Milbank Congregational Church and much more! Each week, he answers your questions.
Q: In what year was the former Milbank Clinic built? Who were the doctors then?
-S.M. from Milbank
The clinic was erected in 1952 on Main Street across from the Courthouse on the former site of the St. John’s Norwegian Lutheran Church. The doctors were E.A Johnson and D.A.Gregory.
Q: What is the Dolan-Justice Building? What will be in it? How did it come to be? What’s going on inside? When will it be open to the Public?
– D.H. from Milbank
A: The concept of an additional museum building arose back in the early 1990’s. I joined the Grant County Historical Society Board of Directors then and the Society president, Elsie Johnson, was circulating the idea and had architectural drawings completed along with a cost analysis. Those plans called for attaching the museum building to the east side of the Carnegie Library. That would have required an elevator as well as a number of modifications to deal with disturbing a building already on the National Register of Historic Places. The cost was way too high, so the project lay dormant for a long time.
The idea would bubble up every so often, but the money to do it was never there. One day in 2012, we received a phone call from Phyllis and Clarence Justice. They had been enthusiastic supporters of the idea, but it always came to the same end. This time, though, they made a donation of $200,000, and followed it in 2013 with another gift of $50,000. An additional $5,000 came as a Christmas present from the Valley Queen Cheese Company, also in 2013.
Finally, the Society Board of Directors felt comfortable enough to order plans to be drawn, reviewed, and approved. Bids were taken, colors were selected, and many decisions large and small were made.
Construction by the Extreme Contracting Company and Calvin Schulte commenced in November of 2014. The new building was returned to the Society in December of 2015. You might recall, the City of Milbank had torn up our street for a while, so it took longer – but we now have the newest pipes in South Dakota! Funds for the interior work in the museum have been provided by the Flynn Estate and LaVonne Kohl, in the amount of $20,000. Much of the work inside the museum is being done by Scott Leininger and his crew- Tiffany Patnoe and Bob Grimli.
We are now working on a group of display areas, which will tell the stories. Story boards are being developed, photos are being collected and printed in a 9” X 12” format by Cheryl Hermans at Tyler Computer, and eventually they will be framed by Peggy Vanorny. Artifacts are being gathered from the Grant County Review and the Flynn Law Offices.
The stories are: The Founding of Milbank Junction, The Henry Volkmar Story, The William Dolan Story, The Story of Phyllis and Clarence Justice, The Story of the Grant County Review, The Leo Flynn Story, The National Register of Historic Places in Grant County, and The Story of the Grant County Historical Society. As plans get finalized and the dimensions are determined, there is also the possibility of temporary exhibits.
As you can see, much progress has been made, with more to come. We’ll get there! We plan to have the new museum building open to the public by Memorial Day Weekend.
Have a question on Grant County you’d like to Ask Arlo? Click here to submit your question!
Arlo Levisen currently serves as the president of the Grant County Historical Society. He was born in Milbank in 1944 and grew up on his family's farm just east of Stockholm. Arlo attended school in Stockholm, Milbank, and South Shore. In 1967, he graduated from Northern State College with a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and History. He also earned degrees in Elementary School Administration and School Superintendency. He was employed as the Grant-Deuel School Superintendent from 1990 until his retirement in 2005. He and his wife, Paulette, reside near Big Stone Lake. They have two children and four grandchildren.