HOT SPRINGS – “Thank you for your assistance in the past and I ask that you continue to help preserve this historic healing place for the next 100 years,” said David J. Brown, the Executive Vice-President and Chief Preservation Officer for the National Trust of Historic Places (NTHP).
Brown was in Hot Springs on Wednesday morning to officially announce that the Battle Mountain Sanitarium had been added to the NTHP’s 2014 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.
“By adding the Battle Mountain Sanitarium to the list of endangered places, it and the other 10 sites for 2014 join 264 historic sites identified and placed on this list since 1988,” Brown said.
“Thanks to the network of local partners only a handful of those buildings have been lost,” Brown continued. “I fully expect that the continued work done locally by the Save the VA, the South Dakota Historical Preservation Organization combined with efforts by the South Dakota Congressional delegation and the National Trust will add the Battle Mountain Sanitarium to the ‘saved’ list.”
Brown made his remarks with a direct eye line to the distinctive dome of Building 1 at the VA Black Hills Health Care System’s Hot Springs campus, which grew from its beginnings as the Battle Mountain Sanitarium, more than 107 years ago.
Representatives of the Save the VA Committee, the City of Hot Springs and from Senator John Thune’s and Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s offices also delivered remarks at the event. A letter from Senator Tim Johnson was read by Brown as well.
“The VA is proving to be poor stewards of its historic buildings,” Brown added. “Our hope is that with continued support and discussion, we can engage the VA with its proposal to shutter this healing center and that there will be improved consideration for this historic medical facility.”
Save the VA committee chairman Pat Russell, who is also the President of the American Federation of Government Employees of the Hot Springs VA, said, “The threats to of our nation’s most treasured places would be a disservice to the veterans who have received treatment here starting with the Civil War and continuing to the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun public scoping hearings on its proposal to close the Hot Springs VA Medical Center and replace it with a Community Based Outpatient Clinic, while also closing the PTSD and Substance Abuse Treatment Programs in Hot Springs and moving those programs to Rapid City.