Last Updated: 09 August 2019 09 August 2019
In September 1972, Harvey Dunn School existed only on paper and was known merely as the Southeast School through the two years of planning. At the end of that time, students throughout the city were given the unique opportunity of naming their newest school. Elementary schools suggested 77 different names, and the school board decided on Harvey Dunn, a name suggested by three students-Dennis Bell, Dawn Modica, and Jan Parker. All three felt that Dunn, a native South Dakotan, deserved recognition for his contribution to prairie art. The pioneer series, which includes "The Prairie is My Garden", is one of Harvey Dunn's most noted works of art. These paintings were produced over a period of many years which portray Dakota's pioneering past.
Harvey Dunn was original in its design and function. The school has four "clusters" which wrap around an impressive, centralized library. Each cluster accommodated four classrooms without walls. Harvey Dunn was the first "open" school in Sioux Falls.
In the spring of 2002, a major remodeling and construction project began. The original clusters of classrooms were transformed into self-contained classrooms, two additional kindergarten classrooms were added, and the offices were moved to the front of the building. The Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation Department worked cooperatively with the school district to build a community center. Three classrooms, a game room, computer lab and double gym were built as an addition to Harvey Dunn School. The gym is used jointly during the day with a physical education class on one side and park & recreation department activities on the other. In the evening, many sports leagues use the gyms for activities throughout the year.
Meet Harvey Dunn
On March 7, 1884, Harvey Thomas Dunn was born to Tom and Bersha Dunn in a homestead south of the rail line between Manchester and DeSmet along Redstone Creek. At age 4, he moved to the homestead of one of his mother's relatives.
For nine years Harvey attended the Esmond Township School. As a youngster, he sketched endlessly on the blackboard. He drew oxen, flowers, gnarled cottonwoods, and C&NW locomotives. His teacher had to hide the chalk box from him to conserve her supply. That was when he turned to expressing his artistic urgings with a jackknife on the rough exterior siding of the building.
In 1901, Harvey had completed the equivalent of nine grades at the rural school and had passed the examinations necessary for him to be accepted as a preparatory student at South Dakota Agricultural College (as South Dakota State University was then called).
There he met Miss Ada B. Caldwell, a talented young art teacher. She urged him to seek further training beyond what he was receiving through her instruction. With this Harvey packed up what he owned and went to attend the Chicago Institute of Art in the Windy City. In spirit he never really left his native state, but was never to live in South Dakota again.
He received his training from Howard Pyle, a very noted artist, and at age 22, was advised by him that the time had come for him to begin his illustrating career. He opened his first studio in Wilmington using the name H.T. Dunn.
Harvey's assignments included magazines, book illustrations, and studio productions. He managed to paint in between these projects. Harvey painted everything; he didn't stick to one type of median, and to him art was communication. He instructed his students to paint illustrations which would stand alone and live on, long after the magazines, stories, and authors were forgotten.
Johanne Louise Krebs, nicknamed Tulla, became his wife on March 12, 1908. His son, Robert Kruse Dunn, was born on July 3, 1911, and his daughter, Louise, on November 3, 1912. Harvey Dunn died on October 29, 1952, of prostate cancer. One friend, Arthur R. Mitchell, writes, "Harvey has done something...for Dakota generations yet to come-for he has left there a beautiful and accurate pictorial record of what their country was like immediately following the Indians. Maybe no other state can ever have such a thing."