Watertown was platted by the Winona & St. Peter Railroad. The uptown district, consisting of six square blocks, was divided into narrow lots intended mostly for commercial use running parallel to the railroad tracks. Important noncommercial buildings arranged on the edges of this area act as a buffer between the commercial and residential districts and include the courthouse, municipal buildings, a lodge hall, and two churches.
The construction of the Mellette and Granite Blocks at the corner of Broadway and Kemp established a new financial center. This drew development beyond the traditional "main street" area built near the railroad tracks. The construction of two such prominent buildings reflected the optimism and confidence that characterized Watertown in the 1880s. The opening of the Sisseton-Wahpeton reservation in 1892 and the arrival of new settlers further encouraged development along Kemp Avenue.
Avenues and streets were originally named for prominent men in Watertown's formation, trees, and animals. This system caused confusion because it did not allow for distances or directions. In 1906, most street names were changed to a numerical order for simplicity.
1. Kemp Avenue looking west.
2. West side of Broadway (Oak Street) looking south in 1879.
3. East side of Maple Street looking
north from Kemp Avenue.
4. West side of Broadway (Oak Street) looking north.
5. Kemp Avenue looking east.
Sponsored by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, a Preserve America grant, and the South Dakota State Historical Society.
Images courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society and the Codington County Historical Society.