While the Carnegie Resource Center is a vital piece of Mitchell's history, upkeep for the 116-year-old building is a constant challenge.
One of those challenges is the corroding wall on the exterior of the building, and the Mitchell Area Historical Society has been focusing its efforts on getting the wall repaired. The society purchased the former Carnegie Library building from the city in 2006 for $1.
"It's one project after another, but I will always do everything I can to help preserve the building," said Karen Pooley, vice president of the Mitchell Area Historical Society.
According to Pooley, the historical society has secured $18,000 in grant funding to repair the corner of the building's north wall. Pooley said a contractor has estimated the wall repair cost to be $28,875. The Sam F. Weller Family Foundation and Outside of Deadwood grant program are the two entities that have contributed grants to provide $18,000 worth of funding for the wall repairs. To make up the remaining amount, Pooley said the historical society has applied for a $4,500 grant from Mitchell Area Charitable Foundation and will be responsible for paying the rest of the wall's funding.
The society preserves old Corn Palace photographs, mementos and original pieces of Oscar Howe artwork, among other items, in what was Mitchell's first public library. But the preservation items haven't been cheap. Pooley said the Mitchell Area Historical Society has spent roughly $300,000 in building repairs since they've been operating out of the Carnegie Resource Center.
The cost of maintaining the building - built in 1903 - is well worth it for Mitchell Area Historical Society President Lyle Swenson. The retired Davison County Sheriff and former U.S. Marshal spends most of his time giving tours of the building and providing information on the unique historical items on display.
Because the Mitchell Area Historical Society is a nonprofit organization, Swenson said the building maintenance of the Carnegie Resource Center strictly relies on donations and grant funding.
"It's a beautiful old building, but we've had plenty of challenges upkeeping the building since we moved in," Swenson said. "Preserving the incredible history of this building and all of the things inside of it is something I will do as long as I'm able. We have about every piece of Mitchell's history inside this building"
Swenson said the Carnegie Resource Center has been blessed with many generous donors, including former Mitchell resident Richard "Dick" Weller. Not only has Weller donated money to help upkeep the building, he gifted the Carnegie Resource Center two original Oscar Howe art pieces years ago. Last year alone, Swenson said Weller donated $100,000 for the Carnegie Resource Center, which is free and open to the public from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
"Dick has been such a generous man for us," Swenson said. "People like him and many others who have donated are the only way we can keep this place going."