Smith-Zimmermann State Historical Museum

smith_zimmerman_museum.jpgThe Lake County Historical Museum was dedicated on October 15, 1961 to Captain and Mrs. H.P. Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Philip Zimmermann. Over the objections of Smith and Zimmermann, the building was named in their honor.

In 1959 George Smith and Lillie Zimmermann together donated $75,000 for the museum building to be constructed on the College campus. Senate Bill 252 passed allowing construction of the building. Besides passing the bill the legislature also allocated $25,000 of state funds for construction.

In the beginning the Museum was a cooperative effort between the State and Lake County Historical Society. The state owned the building and maintained it, the Society owned the collection inside of the Museum and both the State and Society operated it. In 1978 the state hired a full-time curator for the Museum, and in 1982 the Society turned the collection over to the state. In 1996, the State stopped providing the curator, the maintenance and funding of any kind for the Museum, with no reason given. All of these responsibilities and the collection inside of the Museum were turned over to the Lake County Historical Society which now runs it as a county museum.

The Smith-Zimmermann Museum website clarifies their continuing mission. "The Smith-Zimmermann Museum is a memorial dedicated to all the pioneers who, through their sacrifices, made so many lasting contributions over the past 100 years. It is further dedicated to be a place of learning and inspiration for all of us who will learn from the past better to appreciate today and grow in wisdom and knowledge so necessary to viewing and solving of the problems of progress in the future."

The collection primarily reflects the early pioneers who settled in Lake County. Many artifacts in the Museum were brought or purchased by these early pioneers in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The artifacts include household articles, period clothing, and war memorabilia.



Lowry, V. A. Forty Years at General Beadle (1922-1962). Madison, SD: Dakota State University,1984.