Supreme Court law library in Pierre is now complete

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Visitors to the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre can now see the whole building as it looked in 1911. That’s because the last restoration project, the Supreme Court law library, is now complete.

Former Chief Justice David Gilbertson always hoped to restore the Supreme Court law library just like every other room in the capitol building.

“Two things stopped that, that was always law books that we had no place to put and secondly, we didn’t know what the original law library even looked like,” said David Gilbertson.

Computers took care of the first problem.

“It’s still a functioning law library. In the backroom, we have the computers for legal research and the older lawyers like me that still like to use law books, they’re there,” Gilbertson.

The second problem was solved by the discovery of a photograph from 1911 showing the original law library in all its glory.

“Without the photograph, we don’t even start,” said Gilbertson.

Gilbertson was recently honored for his leadership in the library project. His portrait now hangs on the wall.

“A little bit of grey in the beard, little bit of grey of the side, not all white like it is today,” said Gilbertson.

The people doing the restoration work discovered some hidden gems. The names of early territorial judges were covered behind bookshelves and old paint. One by one, workers recovered a dozen historical names.

“Oh it was great fun, it was kind of like ok, what’s the next name going to be?” said Gilbertson. “We’re sitting in the Brookings County Courthouse, Brookings County is named after Wilmot Brookings an early territorial judge.”

Because Gilbertson led the restoration work, he now gets his name up on the wall as well.

“There’s all these judges and justices from the 1880s, 1870s up till about 1900 and then on the very end it says “Gilbertson.” I don’t know if I merit that or not, but the name is up there,” said Gilbertson.

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