Last updated: 12/31/2012
Garretson, South Dakota
Street Address
609 Main Ave.
Garretson, SD 57030
Mailing Address
PO Box 614
Garretson, SD 57030
April - December
Saturday1 PM - 4 PM
Or by Appointment at 605-594-3522 (ask for Judy)
Free. Donations Accepted.
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Oran Sorenson, Historical Society President
phone: 605-594-6319
Jakob Etrheim, Member, Facebook/Email Newsletter Manager
phone: 605-929-7695
Constance Nelson, Treasurer
Judy Hanson, Group/Tour/Appointment Coordinator
phone: 605-594-3522

The Garretson Heritage Museum is an educational, cultural, and social learning center for children and families with a primary focus on history of our local area (Garretson, Sherman, and Booge; SD). The museum is governed by the Garretson Area Historical Society and many dedicated volunteers. Our collections within the museum currently included a wide assortment of military uniforms & accessories, past & present obituaries for genealogical research, a kitchen & bedroom displayed like it would have looked like back in the past, artifacts from the old bank and drug store that originally inhabited the museum building, and a room specially filled with local agricultural items to honor area farmers. The museum building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (for its significant architecture and for the role it played in the development of commerce in Garretson) and is recognized by the Association of South Dakota Museums, Minnehaha County & South Dakota Historical Societies.


The museum building has two portions to it; the bank and drug store side. The side that you walk into through the main entrance is the drug store side (North portion). Once inside, you go up a little ramp to your left and you have just entered the bank side (South portion).

The bank side was built in May 1895 under the name The First National Bank. This building replaced where the bank originally started in a little wooden building that sat on the property that the library currently occupies today (next door to the South) which was built in August 1894 under the name Garretson State Bank. The bank was founded by Thos. Wangsness, M.H. Wangsness, and A.H. Rudd with total assets of $10,000. This served as the bank’s home till August of 1979 when it was moved into a new building (down the block North). The First National Bank specialized in farm loans and collections. The bank played a key role in helping local farmers keep their farms during the Great Depression which was a rarity for banks of the time. The original teller desks; record & money safes; and burglar alarm box can still be seen today.

The drug store was started in the same little wooden building the original bank I just mentioned by L.B. Farley around 1889 under the name of the Corner Drug. Ole Johnson, who was an apprentice to Mr. Farley, purchased the Corner Drug in 1904. The drug store sat on the corner until the addition to the bank (drug store side) was built and Ole moved it there several years later and renamed it Johnson Drug. Ole and his son-in-law Emmett Nelson owned the business until 1967 when Emmett’s son Bob Nelson purchased the drug store. In 1980, Bob and his wife Mary moved the building next door (to the South) where Rainbow Delight is today.

On the second level above the bank and drug store was the home of important offices and apartments. The offices of bank officials like of the Wangsness family and of prominent town attorneys like John Theodoesen and Anton Halls. There were one or two apartments on the second level that was at one time home to Bob and Mary Nelson for example. Other things that have inhabited the second level are a doctor’s office, city library, and meeting space. The second level currently sits empty with the possibility of a future renovation project for rental space.

The Garretson Community Historical Society (as it was called at the time) held its first meeting on September 24, 1984. Officer elections were held with the President being Bob Nelson, Oran Sorenson as Vice President, Secretary as Jan Dahl, and Treasurer as Jim Johnson. They would later decide to change the name to what it is today (Garretson Area Historical Society) and to find a permanent property to encourage folks of all ages to take an interest in local history. This biggest location of interest for a museum was the old bank/drug store building which had sat almost empty since Johnson Drug left the building in 1980. Owner Alan Hammer graciously gave the old bank/drug store building to the society on September of 1988 and the official deed was presented to Lorraine Butrum by Hammer on November 26, 1988. Meetings of the Historical Society are still held every 4th Monday of the month usually at the museum. The public are welcome to attend. Our annual meeting with lovely historical entertainment is held in September.

Artifact Collections

About 90% of our entire collection is located on the exhibit floor and available for viewing in the museum. The remaining 10% is in specialized storage because of lack of floor space within the museum or for specific reason. So what you see in the museum is what you get.

Our collections within the museum currently included a wide assortment of military uniforms & accessories, a kitchen & bedroom displayed like it would have looked like back in the past, artifacts from the old bank and drug store that originally inhabited the museum building, and a room specially filled with local agricultural items to honor area farmers. All of our collections are from the local area (Garretson, Sherman, and Booge) or may be from out of the area and hold special significance with a local area family. Under our policy, all collections must be donated to the museum (or may be on special/temporary loan) and we do not accept “on loan" any longer.

Research Collections

Whenever a local area citizen or former local area citizen passes on, the Garretson Area Historical Society tries our very best to acquire their obituary. Once we do, we catalog it alphabetically in one of our several large binders that we have been persevering for several years now. Along with obituaries, we collect local newspapers articles. This information could be helpful in genealogical research or for kids in local history research. If not, contact the Siouxland Heritage Museums of Sioux Falls, SD. They have a larger database and may be better suited to aid in your research.


The museum is run by the Garretson Area Historical Society and financial supported by the City of Garretson and donations several private businesses and individuals.


Under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), no individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation. However, with regard to historic properties (those properties that are listed or that are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or properties designated as historic under State or local law), those facilities must still comply with the provisions of Title III of the ADA to the "maximum extent feasible" but if following the usual standards would "threaten to destroy the historic significance of a feature of the building" then alternative standards may be used.

All of our museum is located on ground level and is handicapped accessible except our agricultural display room in located in the basement and the vacant apartments/offices located on the second level and both are only accessible by stairs. This meets our "maximum extent feasible" requirement.

Wheelchair Accessible




Gift Shop

Our small gift shop contains local memorabilia like the "Celebrating a Century" 1989 Garretson Centennial Celebration book as well as one of a kind Garretson homemade pottery. Other items include postcards, pictures, and ornaments. Items that are for sale can be seen on are Facebook page and ordered on the phone/online by contacting a board member.

Gift Shop

Special Event Rental

Group Tours

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