This past August 19th, Don Perdue passed away at the age of 91 years old. I was fortunate to be able to meet him and visit with him years ago. He is someone who left a legacy behind and had many accomplishments. I thought I would take a moment to reflect on one of his projects that has forever changed Rapid City in a great way.
If you live in the Black Hills or want to move to the Black Hills, there are many fun activities in this beautiful area. You can even go to downtown Rapid City for a meal and then wander around downtown and visit the Presidents.
Rapid City is nestled at the foot of the beautiful Black Hills, just half an hour from Mount Rushmore National Memorial. But if you don’t feel like making the drive to see the Presidents on the mountain, you can just walk downtown and see almost all of America’s Presidents. There are dozens of statues of Presidents in downtown Rapid City.
Why not all of them? It was decided that there would not be a statue erected of any president while that person was still in office. It also takes time to figure out where to put the statue of a president who has left office. Also, once in a while a statue may be temporarily removed for repairs or alterations.
The great thing is that the statues are non-partisan and do not debate each other. They are part of our history. Whether or not you like a President—they still have held the highest office in our country and are a part of our nation’s history. Their statues are works of art and have taken a tremendous amount of time to be created. These works of art are deserving of respect.
The City of Presidents Foundation decides on the placement of each statue based on where it will look best with the surrounding area. Each sculpture captures a unique image of each president. The foundation is looking at areas where the statues will expand their downtown presence.
The project was the idea of Rapid City businessman Don Perdue. In 1999 he noticed how a statue of Abraham Lincoln had significant interaction from tourists. He got a Realtor® involved in the project and it took off. Oddly, the project initially was met with some opposition—as is the case with some great ideas. There were a few hoops to jump through before the presidents started popping up without controversy.
Perdue’s initial idea of 42 presidents cost approximately $2 million and the final statues of that group were placed in October 2010. The project is expected to continue indefinitely.
One other item worth mentioning is that you may notice hats, scarves, coats, and gloves on statues during the winter months (November 15th to March 15th). The presidents are not cold—those items are for anyone who is less fortunate who may need winter apparel. It is allowed by Rapid City ordinance during those dates.
If you are looking at buying a home in Rapid City or if you are just looking at visiting Rapid City and the Black Hills, I’m sure you will make a trip to Mount Rushmore. You should also make sure you make it to downtown Rapid City to visit the rest of the presidents who played a role in our country’s history.