Published: Nov 27th, 2012
A century ago, the Carpenter Building was being praised as Sioux Falls’ newest palatial hotel.
Today, the magnificently restored, six-story business and apartment complex stands as a prominent landmark in the heart of the downtown business district.
The promising future of the 100-year-old Carpenter Building, as well as its glorious and sometimes challenging past, will be celebrated at a public event. An open house will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 in the Ballroom of the Carpenter Building, at 221 S. Phillips Ave. Refreshments will be served, and tours of commercial areas in the building will be available.
“It’s been a big part of Sioux Falls’ history for 100 years. It’s still the hub of a vital downtown area,” says owner Carol Dyke of LCDD Inc. She, along with building manager Pam Alexander, will host the open house celebrating the Carpenter’s milestone anniversary.
The Carpenter opened as an elegant, 150-room hotel in October 1912. Its amenities included a dining room, coffee shop and lounge. It was built by Frances Carpenter, the widow of business investor Charles Carpenter.
The Carpenter was the first masonry hotel built in South Dakota, a feature that was comforting because other luxury hotels in the city had burned down. A large sign on the Carpenter calmed public concern in the early years by advertising the building as “fire proof.”
During its glory days as a hotel, guests included celebrities such as Benny Goodman, Bob Hope and Katherine Hepburn.
Hotel operations ended in the 1960s. Several restaurants and other businesses came and went. By 1991, the building was vacant and in danger of demolition.
Carol Dyke’s late husband, David, bought the sturdy but deteriorating building in 1994 and spent years painstakingly restoring the lower levels and remodeling the upper floors. Mr. Dyke, a successful businessman and developer, passed away in September 2012.
“He had a vision for the Carpenter, and he followed through with it,” says Alexander, a longtime business assistant of the Dykes. “David worked very hard on the project.”
Carol Dyke fondly recalls her first thoughts when her husband acquired the vacant, beaten-up building with broken windows. At the time, it was a boarded-up eyesore occupied only by pigeons, vermin and vagrants.
“Oh, my, what was he thinking? It was a terrible mess,” she says, chuckling.
David Dyke remade the Carpenter into a community gem. Carol Dyke takes great pride in how her visionary husband and work crew saved the historic building.
Today, the three upper floors and part of the third floor house 18 luxury apartments, all of which are occupied. There are five occupied business suites on the second and third floors. Up to five vacant office spaces currently are available for lease.
The dining area of the former hotel has been renovated into a Ballroom that is available for public rental for events such as receptions, dinners, parties and business meetings. The Ballroom can accommodate up to 200 guests, with seating for 160. A prep kitchen is available for caterers to use.
Rita and Bob Elmen of Sioux Falls are among those who have booked the Ballroom for upcoming use. They plan a family celebration of their 60th wedding anniversary in December. The Elmens met at a dance in the Carpenter 62 years ago and started dating, which led to their lasting marriage.
Rita Elmen, now 81, is excited about returning to the Carpenter. “It will be really special. I have good memories of it,” she says.
Today, there also are three retail, storefront businesses at base of the Carpenter: The Book Shop, Mrs. Murphy’s Irish Gifts, and The Home Porch.
Dick and Sandy Murphy’s gift store has been part of the Carpenter complex for 15 years.
“When I found this location was available, I was thrilled,” Dick Murphy says. “What more would you want than to be in a historic building like the Carpenter?”
KSOO, Sioux Falls’ second radio station, started broadcasting from the sixth floor of the Carpenter in 1926 and maintained an office and studio there until 1937.
The hotel remained in operation until the 1960s. For a time in the 1970s and early 1980s, converted hotel rooms served as a dormitory for Nettleton College.
The Carpenter was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
“It was cheap to buy but expensive to renovate,” Carol Dyke says. “Once again, it’s truly a treasure for Sioux Falls.”
For more information about the upcoming open house celebration or rental space in the Carpenter Building, contact building manager Pam Alexander at 605-338-0609 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the Carpenter also is available online at www.carpenterbuilding.com.