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The Austin-Whittemore House

15 Austin Street
Vermillion  South Dakota  57069
United States
(605) 624-8266
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Midwest Living Review

Doug Clough
The beautiful Austin-Whittemore home shows off the area's history in a well-manicured Italian villa.

The Clay County Historical Society's Austin-Whittemore Home is a beautiful repository of Vermillion history. The 1880s Italian villa-style home contains period Victorian furniture and artifacts documenting the regional history. Cleo Erickson, who was instrumental in turning the home into a museum, starts the museum tour with an overview of the home's history (deeply entwined with Vermillion's history). She also tells the story of how owner Arthur Whittemore, the famous pianist of musical duo Whittemore and Lowe, agreed to donate the home. After Erickson's initial overview, she sets guests free to peruse. It's in excellent shape and jam-packed with interesting artifacts. There is a room given entirely to the history of the Austin-Whittemore family and relics from the time they lived there: old eyeglasses, surveyor maps, clothing and home decor. Some rooms overflow with historical pieces and seem cluttered; visitors might pass those in favor of rooms with better-marked items that reflect a clearer time-period. But those that dig in will be rewarded with interesting information. The museum is open weekdays or by appointment. Free admission.

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