Scobey Hall to be demolished this month


Sam Schoenbauer

Scobey Hall, which has been closed for five years, will be demolished this month.

Allison Bruns, Reporter


Scobey Hall, a building on the far west edge of the South Dakota State University campus, will be torn down this month after sitting empty for five years.

The building was permanently closed in spring 2017 because of a variety of problems, forcing faculty offices, classrooms and academic departments to find new homes. 

During the 2019 legislative session, the South Dakota Board of Regents sponsored House Bill 1038 in an effort to get clearance for the demolition. That bill passed.

According to a bill brief from SDBOR, Scobey Hall needs substantial repairs, “including items such as heating, cooling and chiller replacement, asbestos abatement, basement and sump system repair, elevator, fire, and electrical service upgrades, accessibility and life safety code upgrades,” making it a prime demolition candidate.

Since it was decided that the building would be demolished, legislative action was needed. HB 1038 granted the university the approval needed to tear the building down. 

Matthew Weiss, an architect and project manager for designArc Group, is the project manager for the Scobey Hall demolition. He said the initial architectural demolition estimate was about $470,000, but the actual cost to demolish the building will be $439,870. 

The bill brief said the cost “will be paid for using ‘other funds’ from local university or private sources.”

“The cost to abate the asbestos was projected to be more expensive than it would be to demolish the facility,” Weiss said. 

Weiss has not heard any negative comments about the demolition. He has spoken to SDSU alumni who have had experiences in Scobey, and he said they are excited to hear that the hall is being torn down.

Weiss said he thinks it’s important to honor the building by keeping blueprints and other documents to remember important dates and specific details of Scobey. 

“As an architect, I generally don’t enjoy the idea of demolishing a historic building,” Weiss said. “So, to me, it is important to preserve the history of the building as best as I can on paper.”

According to Weiss, as of now, SDSU does not have plans for the Scobey Hall site. It will become a green space.

The 43,687 square-foot Scobey Hall was built in 1940, and it has served SDSU in several ways. It was originally used as the men’s dormitory for agriculture and mechanic arts until 1973. 

Until it closed in 2017, it housed classrooms and several academic departments, including the Department of Economics, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Sociology and Rural Studies.

DesignArc Group, the local architecture firm, was selected last July to do the demolition, according to Weiss, and they will work alongside SDSU Facilities and Services to get the building torn down. A contractor that will perform the demolition has also been selected through a competitive bid process. 

Dennis Hedge, the provost and vice president of student affairs, was involved in the relocation of faculty when Scobey closed. The departments were moved to other campus buildings until space was available. 

Hedge said that until the renovation of Harding Hall was complete, the economics department was relocated to the DePuy Military Hall. 

Hansen Hall became the location for the departments of sociology and rural studies and psychology, where they stayed until the two departments formed a new school and found a permanent residence in the Agricultural Engineering building last semester. 

“The challenge in identifying permanent homes was identifying spaces that would allow departments to move in their entirety as a unit and sequencing of construction projects, thus freeing spaces for the relocation of the departments,” Hedge said.