(Photo by Nancy Nelson)
The house that stands at 801 West Main Street was built by W.K. Herrick, a lawyer in Cherokee. He purchased the land in 1887 from the railroad, and construction started in 1891 and was completed in 1894. W.K. Herrick and his wife lived there until 1944 when it was sold to Lydia and Harrison Steele who resided there until 1960 when it was sold to Gordon and Joan Steele.
Upon completion, Mr. Herrick had a picture taken of the house and sent it to a photographer in Chicago. The picture was reduced and engraved into the bowls of 12 spoons. At that time, he named the house Elmdene because of the many elm trees planted on the property.
The foundation and first story are constructed from of stone from Sioux Falls granite which was brought in by train. The house has some very interesting features.
On the east side of the house there is a Port Cochere which was built to cover the carriages when people arrived. There is a very high step on the porch so the travelers could get out to the carriage directly onto the porch. Once inside, there is a lavatory near the front door so guests could wash off the dust from the journey.
The house has four fireplaces. The fireplace in the living room has tiles from Italy depicting the Goddesses of Twilight and Dawn and the God Apollo.
The dining room walls are covered with eleven layers of leather carved with the English and Roman feasting scenes. This room also has a drinking faucet mounted on granite which has its own refrigeration unit.
The house also has eight tower (turret) rooms and features 14 pocket doors all original to the house.
The garage was the former carriage house. The horses were kept in the basement with access to the alley, and the carriages were stored on the first floor. This was later converted to accommodate the Elmdene School of Cooking which was owned by Joan and Gordon Steele.