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June 01, 2018 10:00 PM

Inside The Homes & History Of McKennan Park

It's one of the oldest and most popular neighborhoods in Sioux Falls.

McKennan Park had its beginnings back in the very early days of the city when it was still a small town.

While houses in some of the nearby neighborhoods have deteriorated, the McKennan area is still one of the crown jewels.

Whether it's an expansive two story colonial or a cozy craftsman, many of us have taken strolls in the McKennan Park neighborhood to simply look at the houses.

"This has always been one of the number one neighborhoods to purchase in," Realtor Lee Harding said.

Today we're giving you a peek inside without purchasing.

"I wanted something that was unique and different. This neighborhood had those types of houses," Homeowner Alex Halbach said.

Halbach joined the neighborhood in 2010. He bought a fixer-upper, which is more than 100 years old.

"We repoured a new foundation. Put it back down. New windows, new siding, new roof, new basement, new plumbing, new electrical, new HVAC," Halbach said.

The 4,000 square foot house has four bedrooms and four baths. The then-accountant for the Sioux Falls quarry built it in 1915.

Just a few blocks away realtor Lee Harding is getting a lot of interest in a four bedroom home that's for sale.

"It would have been ordered in the Sears Roebuck catalog back in the 20s and brought by railroad. Then it was assembled on site," Harding said.

Harding specializes in luxury homes in the Sioux Falls area. While this 1851 square foot house isn't big, the location is the big seller.

"I think McKennan Park is one of the most sought after historical areas of the city," Harding said.

The park itself was established in 1906 when a lady by the name of Helen McKennan gave her house and 20 nearby acres to the city.

"She wanted a place for families, ladies and kids to relax and have freedom," Sioux Falls Chief Planning and Zoning Official Jeff Schmitt said.

The wealthy land speculator and developer also had neighbors with money. Most of the original homes were built in the early 1900s.

"That era that community came in and kind of outdid themselves," Schmitt said.

In addition to the houses, the community also came together to plant trees.

"It takes a long time to get those trees like that. That's the nature of that park and district," Schmitt said.

The area was officially named a historic district in 1980, a step that Schmitt hopes will keep the neighborhood vibrant for years to come.

"It's what your crown jewels are, and you want to have that in another 100 years," Schmitt said.

"If you could remove the cars, if you will, it could be 1958. It could be 1978. It could be 2018. It has that feel, so it appeals to many people with how they grew up," Harding said.

"Even though you're in a town of 250,000 in the metro area, in this specific area, where everybody knows their neighbors, it feels like you're in a small town still. That was really appealing to me as well," Halbach said.

An appeal that's driven both homeowners and onlookers here for more than a century.

Photo Slideshow Credit: Siouxland Heritage Museums

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