About Deadwood History

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In 1930 pioneer businessman W.E. Adams founded the Adams Museum in Deadwood, with the purpose of preserving and displaying the history of the Black Hills. He donated the building to the City of Deadwood.

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The Days of '76 celebration began in 1924 as a way to honor Deadwood’s first pioneers - the prospectors, miners, muleskinners, and madams who poured into the Black Hills in 1876 to settle the gold-filled gulches of Dakota Territory. Since then, the Days of '76 has grown into a legendary annual event with a historic parade and an award-winning PRCA rodeo.

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Built in 1892, the Queen Anne-style home is well-known for its oak interiors, hand-painted canvas wall coverings, stained-glass windows, thoroughly modern 19th century plumbing, electricity, telephone service, and original furnishings.

The Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC) houses, preserves, and provides public access to one of the nation’s largest collection of Black Hills archival materials. Dating from the 1870s to the present, these materials provide the visitor with a better understanding and appreciation of the people, places, and events that shaped the unique history of the Black Hills. The extensive collection includes historic photographs, maps, legal correspondence and documents, personal diaries and journals, gold exploration and production reports, business ledgers and records, and many other interesting historic materials. The HARCC also hosts a variety of diverse educational, entertaining, and engaging events for people of all ages.

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Deadwood History

Through one of America’s toughest economic struggles, the determination of a man dedicated to the legacy of Deadwood’s historic past remained unwavering. In the aftermath of the devastating stock market crash of 1929 and the impending warnings of what would become the Great Depression, William Emery Adams personally financed the building of the Adams Museum. Upon completion of the project in 1930, he generously donated the museum to the City of Deadwood.

This single museum eventually grew into a nonprofit organization—Deadwood History, Inc.—that brings the legendary history of Deadwood to life at four unique properties:

  • Adams Museum
  • Days of '76 Museum
  • Historic Adams House
  • Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center

Each property makes the history of Deadwood accessible to visitors through thought-provoking exhibits, personal and powerful stories of people, places, and events, and public programs for people of all ages.

Mission Statement

Deadwood History, Inc. inspires the global community by preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of Deadwood and the Black Hills in the context of the American West through exceptional exhibits, innovative educational programs, and access to extensive collections in unique settings.

DHI Board of Directors

  • Marci Shama - President
  • Ron Burns - Vice President
  • Terri Keene - Secretary
  • Casey Derflinger - Treasurer
  • Bonny Anfinson
  • Dan Farrington
  • Phyllis Flemming
  • Dustin Floyd
  • Joe Peterson
  • Chris Roberts
  • Charlie Struble

DHI Staff

Deadwood History Administrative Offices (HARCC)

150 Sherman Street, Deadwood

  • Carolyn Weber - Executive Director
  • April Hoover - Finance Officer & Human Resources Director
  • Rose Speirs - Communications Director
  • Chelsie Bauer - Media Arts Designer
  • Rachel Lovelace-Portal - Curator of Collections
  • Hannah Marshall Bawden - Archivist

Days of '76 Museum

18 Seventy Six Drive, Deadwood

  • Michele Schulz - Visitor Services Manager
  • Amanda Brown – Education Director
  • Tera Richards – Assistant Educator
  • Darrel Nelson - Exhibits Director
  • Carrie Kappes - Facilities Manager

Historic Adams House

22 Van Buren Street, Deadwood

Deadwood History, Inc. Administrative Offices

150 Sherman Street
PO Box 252
Deadwood, SD 57732

Adams Museum

54 Sherman Street
Deadwood, SD 57732

Days of '76 Museum

18 Seventy Six Drive
Deadwood, SD 57732

Historic Adams House

22 Van Buren Street
Deadwood, SD 57732

Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC)

150 Sherman Street
Deadwood, SD 57732

  • Carolyn Weber
    Executive Director
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Rose Speirs
    Communications Director
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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When thinking of legendary people that helped shape Deadwood, one typically conjures an image of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, or perhaps Seth Bullock. While these personalities are integral to the history of the area, another man arguably created a more tangible, lasting legacy for the city of Deadwood and the surrounding Black Hills. The man was W.E. Adams, the name behind the Adams Museum, the Historic Adams House, and the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center. Despite the name having such a dominant presence today, many are left wondering, “Who was W.E. Adams?”

At the age of 23, William Emery Adams and his older brother, James, came to Deadwood in 1877. Together, the two brothers built and operated a grocery store on Main Street, originally called the Banner Grocery. The fire of 1879 destroyed the building. The brothers soon rebuilt and were back in business again.

W.E. married Alice Burhnam in 1880 and together they had two daughters: Lucile, born 1884 and Helen, born 1892. With a burgeoning business, W.E. was able to provide a happy and comfortable lifestyle for his wife and children. The Adams’ changed residences in Deadwood several times, each time moving into a larger and more elegant home.

In 1894, W.E. built a new store on Sherman Street that eventually reached four stories and occupied an entire block. The building came to be known as the Adams Block building. Adams focused less on retail and more on wholesale; creating one of the largest wholesale houses in the state.

Aside from having a successful business, W.E. had a great impact on community affairs. He served six terms as mayor, making great improvements to the city’s economy. He was very involved in the Chamber of Commerce and the Days of ’76 Celebration, which began in 1924.

There is no doubt W.E.’s largest contribution to the townspeople of Deadwood was his gift of the Adams Museum in 1930. W.E. financed the purchase of a lot and construction of the building. He chose an apt location; directly across the street from his Adams Block building. W.E. also had a personal reason driving his desire to build a museum. He felt a museum was the perfect way to honor his first wife and two daughters, who had all passed away prior to 1930.

Adams’ legacy is perhaps best surmised with the dedication found on the family mausoleum, “A philanthropist and a friend to all mankind and through whose generosity Adams Memorial Hall was erected in Deadwood, South Dakota, and dedicated to the pioneers of the Black Hills of South Dakota.”