Dakota State University's Heston Hall is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It's a beautiful building and a great example of how a structure can be repurposed from one use to another while retaining its great architectural features.
Heston Hall was constructed as a hospital, used briefly as a classroom building and now used for administrative purposes for DSU over the past century.
The recognition of the anniversary started us thinking about other buildings that have undergone successful transformations and what others have the potential of doing. We'd love to see historic architecture preserved and used wisely.
Another example of repurposing is across the street from Heston: the more recent Madison Community Hospital has been converted to a DSU residence hall. The former Madison Central High School on W. Center Street and Washington Elementary on Washington Avenue are now nice apartment buildings. The former Lincoln Elementary School on N.W. 3rd Street is a church.
Another gem is the former railroad depot, converted into offices for the Chamber of Commerce and Lake Area Improvement Corporation, as well as a railroad museum and meeting room.
Of course, many buildings downtown have seen multiple tenants and types of businesses over the years. In our opinion, this is where the best opportunities lie: there are some great structures on Egan Avenue that could be renovated to their original glory and used. The former Citizens Bank Building is undergoing renovation right now.
We offer congratulations to DSU for restoring and maintaining Heston Hall, and we'd love to use that example to renovate others in the city. Which ones should they be?
-- Jon M. Hunter