State Game Lodge

Custer State Park, South Dakota

 The State Game Lodge, Custer State Park, South Dakota

We were driving through Custer State Park in South Dakota when I noticed the architecture of this lodge as we passed by.  I was intrigued by it, and we were not on a tight schedule that day, so we turned around and went back for a closer look. We dropped in on them unannounced, however the staff was gracious and allowed us to look around and take some pictures. I wish I had known about the State Game Lodge before our trip as I would have liked to have stayed here

The lodge was built between 1919-1922 by Cecil C. (C.C.) Gideon. It served as the summer white house for Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and President Dwight D. Eisenhower also was a guest in 1953. In addition to the main lodge building there are modern motel wings and cabins available at this location. Gideon designed and built many local structures in the Black Hills, including the famous pig-tail bridges on Iron Mountain Road.

Unless noted, all photos above were taken on July 24, 2006.  I have been told that extensive remodeling has been done since our visit, so these pictures represent a historic look at a past era in the lodge history.

 View of the State Game Lodge from the street. The more modern style motel wings on either side of the main lodge were added later.

 Front view with flagpole.

 Front entry staircase, great stonework detail.

 National Register of Historic Places plague and building description which states:

"The State Game Lodge was built by
CECIL C. GIDEON, Contractor-Builder in
A.R. Van Dyck - Architect
Monroe Nystrom - Stonemason
All three were from the Minneapolis area. Gideon
and his wife Elma Mary were the genial hosts with
their "Western Hospitality" for 27 years, including
the Presidential visit of the Coolidges. Gideon
was chosen personal guide and companion for the
President while he was here."
 The main staircase, viewed from the main door to the lodge. The registration desk is to the right.
Down the hall directly ahead is the dining room and beyond the dining room.
If you walk through the dining room you come to another stairway that leads down to the gift shop.
Immediately to the left of where this photo was taken is the bar and lounge.
To the right is the main public room.

The main public room with fireplace. This photo was taken looking to the right just inside the front door. The public rooms are small, giving the lodge the feel of staying at the private home of a close (and maybe a bit wealthy!) friend.

Fireplace rock-work in the bar.

This lounge area appears to me to be a later addition, although the staff wasn't able to confirm that for me.

Detail of rock wall between the bar and lounge.

The Pheasant Dining Room still serves "game" dishes as well as more traditional fare. I believe this dining room has been replaced.

Detail of one of the light fixtures in the dining room.  These fixtures appear to be gone now.

The original telephone switchboard is on display outside the door to the gift shop.

Upstairs hallway and rooms. Stairs are to the left.

Upstairs hallway looking the opposite direction of the photo above. Stairs are to the right next to Julie.

The lodge has a third floor with guest rooms, however it was not open to the public at the time of our visit because it didn't meet modern emergency exit requirements.  At the time they were working on retrofits to correct the problem, so the third floor may now be open to the public.

Note: Our visit to the State Game Lodge was unplanned and way too brief. I wish we had more time to explore it and get more details and photos, similar to what I have done for some of the other lodges on this website.