SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For nearly one hundred years the McKennan Park bandshell has stood tall for members of the community to enjoy year after year. Now, the beloved structure is undergoing renovations to keep it standing for another one hundred years.

“The last renovation that we did… was a minor one in 2013,” park development specialist Tory Miedema said. “We were starting to get some settling in the in the substructure, so we did just kind of minor, structural rehab replacing some rotted wood and stuff like that.”

In 2020, after meeting with the McKennan Park Neighborhood Association, a decision was made to give the structure a full renovation as residents wanted to see the historic structure well-maintained.

Those renovations include making the structure watertight to keep the wood from rotting as well as replacing the substructure of the floor and placing a rubber membrane over it with a concrete cap to create a solid stage.

“We’re starting to replace stucco that either started falling off or started cracking… That’s what they’ll be doing in the next couple of weeks. We’re replacing all the windows and the doors. Keeping that historic feel took to it,” Miedema explained.

So, what does that mean for visitors?

“We’re looking at mid-June returning with all of our programming, so we’ll have a full summer worth of programs,” recreation coordinator Eric Saathoff said.

Over the last 97 years that the bandshell has been in operation, it’s become a hub of art and music for the neighborhood and greater Sioux Falls community.

“So, it’s had lots of different uses. It started out as a place for the Sioux Falls Municipal Band and we’re really glad they’re coming back again this year. They’re going to be there at the end of July to perform,” Saathoff said.

Puppet shows, exercise classes and plays will also return once renovations are complete.

“We’ve got Storyland Theater planned as well as Mondays at McKennan and then a Broadway play at the end of July,” Saathoff continued.

That will be Broadway and Beyond which is hosted by a local production company and includes various musical numbers woven together into one story.

Renovations at the park are far from over with the city eyeing updates to the McKennan Park wading pool in the future.

“In 2009 and 2010, we did a renovation of the entire park, other than the bathhouse wading pool in the bandshell,” Miedema said. “So now we’re tacking the tackle in the bandshell and so the last piece that really hasn’t been touched recently is the wading pool.”

McKennan Park proposal designs based on community input. | Courtesy: Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation.

Community input found that Sioux Falls residents are not only interested in updating the existing wading pool but would like an ice-skating rink in the park as well. Mike Patten, parks planning specialist with Parks and Recreation, told KELOLAND News in November that with the public feedback portion over, the city will start to select a design team to take over design and planning for the replacement of McKennan Park as well as Kuehn and Frank Olson Parks.

With upgrades to the bandshell soon to be complete, Saathoff said that the update will only enhance the visitor experience at the park.

“We’ll often see during the summer, someone will come out in the morning with their young kids at Children’s Storyland theatre production, have lunch in the park and then when the wading pool opens, spend the day in the waiting pool as well. So it’s not uncommon to see a Family hanging out in McCarren Park throughout the day,” Saathoff said.

Miedema said that the upkeep of the park is thanks in part to the “great” neighborhood association that has helped put accents across the park including nameplates. Miedema said that the new renovations will be “huge” for not only the McKennan Park neighborhood but all of Sioux Falls.

“They wanted to see it in the future, and really thought that we needed to do a major renovation to make sure that it lasts for another 100 years,” Miedema said.