The Historic Dean Motor Company—now to be reborn as The Dean Building—embodies a distinctive period of progress in Rapid City’s rich history.
Originally constructed in 1929 for Dean Chevrolet, the one-and-a-half story rectangular brick building rose in a section of Downtown Rapid City developed at a time of significant construction, alongside the likes of the Alex Johnson Hotel, Fairmont Creamery, and the Motor Service Company (recently reimagined as a coworking community space known as The Garage).
The introduction of the automobile brought about the development of a number of dealerships and auto repair centers east of Fifth Street. Between 1928-1929, at least six garages were under construction or expanded—all one-story commercial structures in the modern broad-front style.
Dean Motor Company was owned by Roy Dean, and sold one year after it was built to C.K. McDonald, who changed the name to McDonald Chevrolet. By 1941, the establishment was renamed Rapid Chevrolet, which remained until 1976 when they moved to a new location. It was bought by Midwest Tire and Muffler Company (TMA) in 1978, which occupied the building for the next three-plus decades.
The Dean Building was entered onto the National Register of Historic Places on June 23, 1995.
In 2016, after sitting empty for about one year, it was purchased by a group of local community members who wanted to contribute to the vibrancy of the East of Fifth Street neighborhood. After $1.8 million in renovations, it will be opened as The Dean Building, a complex consisting of apartment flats, an office space, a boutique clothing store, and coffee shop and tap room. Opening is slated for November 2016.
Who is Dean?
The Dean Building is named after the original owner of the building, Roy Dean. Not only did he build Dean Motor Company, but he also served as vice president of the Federal Building and Loan Association in 1930. He went on to lead Rapid City National Bank as president in 1939.
The historical significance of the landmark, paired with the intention to bring back to life details of the building—and respect the period in which it was built—paved the way to naming the building after Roy Dean. Dean Chevrolet did more than sell cars—it directly contributed to an exciting period of growth, prosperity and creativity in Rapid City. So, too, will the new Dean Building, bringing smart design and industrial strength to living and working East of Fifth Street.