Mellette House
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member farmkid
N 44° 54.423 W 097° 07.300
14T E 648280 N 4974341
Quick Description: Mellette House in Watertown, SD.
Location: South Dakota, United States
Date Posted: 6/3/2007 10:26:18 AM
Waymark Code: WM1MQ8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member MNSearchers
Views: 38

Long Description:
Home is open for tours.
Marker Name: Arthur C. Mellette

Marker Type: City

Marker Text:
Arthur C. Mellette was the last Governor of Dakota Territory, having been appointed by President Benjamin Harrison in 1889. Although the capital was in Bismarck, the Mellettes maintained their home in Watertown. Born and raised in Indiana, Mellette owned a newspaper and practiced law before moving to Dakota Territory in 1878, where he was appointed Registrar of the Land Office at Springfield. When the land office moved to Watertown in 1880, the Mellettes followed. A territorial politician, Mellette was instrumental in bringing Dakota Territory to statehood, both through a regional campaign and through his influence with national leaders. He is remembered most for his honesty and integrity both in and out of public office. His credo was the Sermon on the Mount. From an architectural standpoint, Mellette House is an Italianate villa which was built for Arthur and Margaret Mellette in 1883. Planned by the Mellettes and a German craftsman, the home was a showplace where many elegant gatherings were hosted during the frontier period. Its beautiful Victorian furnishings are examples of what was the most fashionable décor in the territory. Arthur C. Mellette was elected first governor of the state of South Dakota in 1889. Although Watertown lost in its bid to obtain the state capitol, which was established in Pierre, the Mellettes maintained their home in Watertown. While the 1880s were good years for Dakota’s farmers, by the end of the decade there was a period of severe drought. Mellette’s greatest challenge as Governor was to help the destitute through the crisis. Since he was firmly committed to simplicity and economy in government, he raised funds to aid the drought-stricken through private benevolence, rather than through taxes. He operated an efficient government that met each challenge with courage, determination and energy. When Mellette left the governorship in 1893, he returned to his law practice in Watertown. After short period of ill health, personal tragedy, and financial woes, the family moved to Pittsburgh, Kansas. Mellette died there one year later at the age of 54. Arthur, Margaret, and two of their four sons are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

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