Monday, October 27, 2014

Effort Underway to Preserve Historic Hotel near Hwy 83 in White River, SD

Photo by Stew Magnuson
The following is a press release submitted to the Highway 83 Chronicles blog. I welcome submissions of this nature as well as guest bloggers! SM

In an effort to create jobs and revitalize the White River, South Dakota, community, former and future resident Penelope Seitler is planning to renovate the 100 plus year old White River Hotel.  
This is a multi-purpose project with social and business aspects. The plan is for the hotel to hire employees from an interesting source — people coming out of rehab. 
Seitler says there is no place for people to continue their recovery, and businesses are leery of hiring such individuals. By working with counselors, she says they can determine what an individual would be best suited to, and how many hours a week would be appropriate. The employees can stay in substance free dorm style housing at the hotel, until a group home is created. 
“By providing jobs, we are giving people a hand up instead of a hand out,” Seitler said.  The income from the hotel will also add to the tax base of the City, as well as increasing the income of local area merchants. 
A few years ago, a structural engineer took a brief look at the hotel, and pronounced her solid, although in need of extensive repairs. The most recent photos show that the roof, foundation, windows, and doors are not sagging at all; and the rubber roof applied a few years ago is still holding strong. Many community members would like to see something done with the old building, and will support the renovation, while others are interested in tearing it down, making this a time sensitive initiative. The building itself is rich with history, including two stints as a hospital during flu epidemics.  Many local residents remember it from staying there during the school week. One local hunting guide said he could fill the original 11 rooms every night of the year.  The renovation will turn it into a seven-room bed and breakfast with Restaurant open to the public.  “While we would love to realize the guides estimate, we are working with a much more conservative estimate of occupancy,” said Seitler.
“A Hand UP in the Heartland” is the name of the crowd funding campaign started to make this project a reality.  At the campaign site, people can make donations to fund this project, and get something in return.  
“Perks” are items given in thanks for supporting the project with donations that range from various types of art works, to dinners in the restaurant, and free stays at the hotel. Once up and running the bed and breakfast will continue to work within the community to fund other worthy projects, giving others a hand up, instead of a continuing cycle of handouts. 
Crowd-funding has become an important tool for starting or growing businesses, without taking on debt, or are unavailable from a bank.  
For more information, or to fund this project you can go to the web page here:   
You can also find more information at the website:  and the Facebook Page: .

Stew Magnuson is the author of The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: The Dakotas, available at and bookstores and gift shops along Highway 83. 

To join the Fans of U.S. Route 83 group on Facebook, CLICK HERE. And check out the U.S. Route 83 Travel page at  Contact Stew Magnuson at stewmag (a)

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