BACK IN TIME: DWU's Prather HallOn Dec. 12, 1937, Dakota Wesleyan University held an open house to formally open the new School of Music.
On Dec. 12, 1937, Dakota Wesleyan University held an open house to formally open the new School of Music.
The DWU student newspaper, Phreno Cosmian, proclaimed, “With this new building, we have one of the most modern and up-to-date conservatories in the entire Northwest.” On the first and second floors were offices, studios, a music library and classrooms.
The third story held seven practice rooms, and the finished basement had additional practice rooms, classrooms, a music binding room and a storage room. More than 200 students were involved in the music program, and the department had long since outgrown its space in Science Hall.
The solution was to remodel the president’s residence, located on the northwest corner of the campus.
Built in 1906 by Bjodstrup, the three-story, Queen Anne structure built of Sioux quartzite originally had six bedrooms, two bathrooms, two fireplaces, a music room, parlor and formal living and dining rooms. The third floor was not finished, and the basement was left as one large room for laundry and storage. Referred to as Prexy Lodge, it housed seven DWU presidential families for 30 years before its conversion to Music Hall.
On Dec. 22, 1976, DWU was entered on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, and Music Hall was listed as one of the contributing buildings.
But the once vibrant music program was cut, and the building was remodeled in 1984 to house campus offices. In 1996, Music Hall was renamed Prather Hall after the late Dorothy Prather, a 1925 graduate of DWU. Interior and exterior renovations were completed in 1997.
Over the years, the decorative railings were gradually removed from the building until none were left. In 2002, most of the railings were restored in a project funded in part by the South Dakota State Historical Society through the Deadwood Fund grant program. Prather Hall currently houses the institutional advancement and alumni offices.