Historic building at Fort Meade vandalized

FORT MEADE, S.D. — It may not be used for anything else other than a photo-op now, but the Long Stone building on the way to the Fort Meade National Cemetery is tied to the extensive history of the area.

A Doorframe Sits On The Stairs Of One Of The Bay EntrancesSitting just off to the side of Horse Soldier Road, historians believe the structure was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was headquartered just up the hill at Camp Fechner.

In conjunction with what officials call “the Thousand-Inch Range” set up close by, U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Fort Meade during World War II were able to practice shooting at targets.

“This particular building housed the munitions for this shooting range and some weapons,” Bureau of Land Management Archaeologist, Brenda Shierts said. “And each bay has basically a little table that was constructed in the corner and we’re thinking that that table was used for weapons reloading and just weapons storage.”

The range was active from 1934 to 1937, then re-opened from 1939 through 1944.

Locals believe the stone building could have also been used as barracks for soldiers, and even internment spaces for German prisoners of war. One even told officials with the Bureau of Land Management about it being used as part of a local saddle club in the 50’s and 60’s.

However, one local official’s daily rounds last week revealed an unfortunate situation. An outdoor recreation specialist with the Bureau of Land Management was out on patrol, finding several pieces of the historic building completely destroyed.

Some doors and windows had been completely removed, pieces of wood scattered below and the mesh lining either bashed into or detached.

The rock structure itself was not affected, but officials are currently trying to figure out what to do next.

“In my line of work, education is foremost,” Shierts said. “If we could just educate people as to the importance of the buildings and what they were used for, and the fact that they tie back to a lot of people that are still here in this area from a long time ago, I’m hoping that maybe that will help generate enough interest in the buildings to where they will watch them.”

“These buildings belong to the public and not the Bureau of Land Management,” Field Manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s South Dakota Field Office, Chip Kimball said. “And so, when vandalism like this happens to the building we protect, it’s not only disrespecting the communities that live here, it’s disrespecting the memories of the men that worked in this area.”

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Culture and Art, ConnectCenter1-Military, Local News, South Dakota News