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09:55 am - Mon, November 2 2015
Heidi said:
Dan, any idea what the owners plan to do with the old convent?
10:12 am - Mon, November 2 2015
Dan Ray said:

The current owner said he bought it just to make sure no one undesirable would get it, and mentioned he'd be happy to sell it to the right person. I know the locals are concerned about maintaining the current church, which is about a half-block away. I"m going to contact him and tell him this is up now, he may choose to post on here himself!
12:22 pm - Mon, November 2 2015
Karen Shear said:
These pics are a amazing look in to our states history!

Thanks for sharing
01:09 pm - Mon, November 2 2015
Ed Mahoney said:
I love how the chalk board has "cursive" writing on it.
04:15 pm - Mon, November 2 2015
Reply to Ed. The main reason there was only cursive writing, is because we weren't taught how to print. We started out writing and never printed. 1948 to 1955.
06:09 am - Tue, November 3 2015
Dan Ray said:
The entire history of the place is on the blackboards, (in cursive). Pretty cool. I was contacted by several people who had gone to school there, who discussed what it was like. One told me her mother was the one that wrote the history on the blackboards.

There was a dorm upstairs, and several said that it was partially a boarding school at one point. There is a chapel in there, but it was hard to catch a shot that did that justice. The basement had a cafeteria and a kitchen.

08:33 am - Tue, November 3 2015
Darla Knox said:
beautiful pictures of SD history. I do know some people that went to school there. Would love to go look at the inside if it was ever open for people to look at. Love the beautiful staircase!
08:48 am - Tue, November 3 2015
Pam Hunt said:
A story appeared on Facebook late this past Summer about the haunted convent in Zell, SD. Like many people, we stopped by the convent on our sister vacation in October. Sadly the owners have had to lock down the building, due to vandalism. But still a very peaceful place worth seeing and respecting.
10:30 am - Tue, November 3 2015
Actually there were three dorms upstairs. Two big ones that matched the size of the classrooms downstairs. Also above the chapel there was a small one. Maybe had 10/12 beds or so in it. It was a boarding school for many years. I went from 1948 to 1955 and boarded there all eight years.
i have an old glass front cupboard that used to be in the SW music room. An older couple bought it when the school closed and I got it from them.
11:44 am - Tue, November 3 2015
Teresa said:
i keep hearing it's haunted but have not heard any specifics
01:26 pm - Tue, November 3 2015
Merv Tvinnereim said:
I lived in Salt Lake City for 24 years and we would drive by this place at least once a year on our way back to Northeast S.D. The first time I drove by it was overwhelming. I never expected to see something like that and I was always curious about what it was. We were always in a hurry and didn't stop to find out. Now I know. Thanks for the story!
06:05 pm - Tue, November 3 2015
Wendy said:
I drive by this every time I come home from Minneapolis to visit my parents in Gettygsburg, SD. I always wondered what it looked like inside. Would be a great space to turn into some sort of a hunting lodge B&B. Who to get to fund that? Fun project to take on though.
08:32 pm - Tue, November 3 2015
connie sherman catron, eldest daughter of Ray and Agatha said:
Austrian immigrants who had settled near Redfield named their settlement Maria-Zell and asked Bishop Marty to send Sisters. I have the original abstract of title when Sister Josephine Villiger from Maria Rickenbach, Switzerland bought the land from the United States in 1884 after homesteading it in 1883. Benjamin Harrison was president. While St. Mary's School remained open until the '60s, the convent was moved to Yankton in 1889. The school was closed and sold in the1968 to Charles Littel for $5010 and 2 years back taxes when it couldn't meet fire safety specs. We bought the school in 1975 and sold 2 1/2 acres and the school itself to Corny Fink's daughter Janice in 1995. We still have the acreage closer to the church that was the boys' softball field and the boys and girls outhouses! While we owned it, my sister, Mary Jo Sherman lived in the top floor and restored the stained glass windows. I have newpaper articles about her work and lots of photos taken by my son Chris Bruning of the school and church. If someone tells me how, I'll post them here. i also have the invoices from Norbeck's installation of a new well in 1928 for $238.14 and from 1949 when the school and the caves for vegetable storage were wired for electricity by Philard's in Redfield for $775. While we owned the school, we had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places on 7/19/1982. Frances Gruenwald, sister of Joseph Gruenwald, was the second vocation from Zell. She took the name Sister Cunegunde and is buried at Sacred Heart Convent in Yankton. Applications for grant money for restoration can be sought at the South Dakota State Historical Society.
08:02 am - Wed, November 4 2015
Karen said:
Lot of good memories. I'm happy you are sharing these photos with all of us. It means a lot to have the school still there.
09:29 am - Wed, November 4 2015
Dan Ray said:

I just visited via email with the current owners, (Joe and Alisa Lutter), and they asked me to share this info:

Email address: lutterrealty@qwestoffice.net

Phone number: 605-472-2311

The building proper and land it is on is up for sale, the main idea being for someone to keep it in repair.
01:46 pm - Wed, November 4 2015
Dan Ray said:

Side-note,

Copies of any of these pics can be made available to interested parties, a nominal charge would be added to defray the costs of my photography hobby, (some might call it an addiction)... send inquires to Dakotadanno@yahoo.com
07:26 pm - Thu, November 5 2015
Pam Wilson said:
My dad (Victor Heppler) and his brothers and sister went to school there in the 1930s and 1940s.
Wenzel Heppler, my GGG grandfather donated the land and helped to build the convent and the church
08:03 am - Fri, November 6 2015
\Janet Fisher said:
Does anyone know who owns the building currently\? \I've contacted a couple of agents in Redfield, keep getting incorrect info. Would love to see the inside. \My family descends from Wenzel \Heppler.
10:26 am - Fri, November 6 2015
Dan Ray said:
@ Janet,

The current owner is:Joe and Alisa Lutter

Contact info for Joe and Alisa:


Email address: lutterrealty@qwestoffice.net

Phone number: 605-472-2311
09:15 am - Wed, November 11 2015
John Andrews said:
Would the convent site be in Faulk County or is it across the line in Hand County?
10:45 am - Fri, November 13 2015
Rex Osborn said:
I am originally from that area (Redfield) and would go to Zell with my dad for a number of farm related reasons. I have put a call into the current owners and I will be seeking investors for two projects: An academy learning center, with a 6 month operating period. This is adventure learning with limited skill sets, with classes 7 days with liven accommodations. I will also be seeing funding to preserve the structure. Very preliminary at this point, but looking at restoration. If anyone is interested in more investor information and outcomes please email me at Rex@RexOsborn.com This project has a 2 year build out, with 2% pre investment return with 20% equity at completion.
01:42 am - Mon, December 21 2015
Teresa said:
I just bought this place from joe lutter if u have any questions or would like to see the building call me 6055209320
09:13 am - Sat, March 12 2016
Mary Schaffer Knight said:
This is where I went to school from 1st grade to 5th grade (I think). It was a long time ago, would have been @ 1958 to 1962, which is when I think it was closed for not meeting fire code. It was a beautiful place at one time. I still remember giggling with my cousin, Sandy (Daryl Schmidt) when we were goofing off when we should have been sleeping in the dormitory. We spent a few evening on our knees on the chapel praying for our salvation. :)
I also remember sitting on that staircase playing. And learning cursive and using it to write "I will not cheat" or something to that effect 100 times on the blackboard because I let one of my classmates look at my paper during a test. Amazing memories of childhood.
09:38 pm - Thu, April 14 2016
Patricia Eileen Crowe said:
Dan...If you have time...Please go to the cemetery and look for a sister Maria who died in 72 or 73 she was a teacher and her family was from Depue Illinois..She was my mother's cousin..I will find the date of her birth...and send it too you...Her name was Lawless..I am sorry that is all I know...I was going to come for a pilgrimage to visit her grave...All of her birth sister are gone now...So for some reason I am thinking about her... Thank you for taking the time to read my email..
12:35 pm - Thu, September 15 2016
constance catron said:
the first photo is of the 6-8th grade classroom. our 'library' consisted of a little bookcase smaller than the size of one of the windows. i think i read everything in there. neat little piece of furniture. the writing on the blackboard is my mom's, agatha sherman. she wrote on there because she had the keys when i owned it and she'd open it up for anyone who wanted to tour. you can see part of the church in the left window. i have one of the desks here. the desks had inkwells where you could put the bottles of scripto ink that had the little well near the top for you to dip your pen in. altho by that time, we had gotten really fancy: didn't need to use dip pens. had parker fountain pens with a rubber reservoir which could be filled from that little well. I felt rich when i got a parker fountain pen and pencil SET for 8th grade graduation. the basement had the boarders' dining room, the day students' dining room, the priest's dining room, the kitchen with a cellar like storeroom off the side. the 5th picture is of the sisters' bathroom. we could use it in the wintertime IF there was a whiteout blizzard going on outside. the 6th photo shows a stained glass window from the 3rd floor. my sister mary jo sherman huckins lived on the 3rd floor for awhiie and restored the stained glass windows. the last picture is taken from the east entry looking down the hall to the window on the west. the 8th grade classroom with sister bernardine would have been on the immediate right. the 1st to 3rd classroom with sister placida would have been to the right of that west window. we hung our coats on hooks on the left side of the hallway. I have some of the hooks. also on the left is a door which went to the chapel (wooden kneelers. no padding), the vestment room, and the small rooms used for music lessons taught by sister clara and sister madonna.
12:44 pm - Thu, September 15 2016
constance catron (connie sherman) said:
the stairs went up to the 2nd story where the boys' and girls' dorms were as well as the sisters' bedrooms (totally off limits. cloister). there was a huge tube leading out of a west side door that was a fire escape. i spent lots of time at the top of the stairs studying spelling words because i was the south dakota state spelling champion. fell on words like 'fiduciary. the school and church are in hand county. the downtown school and the main part of zell are in faulk county. highway 212 is the dividing line. here's the info re the registration on historic places:
82003928 St. Mary's Church, School and Convent U.S. 212 SOUTH DAKOTA Hand Zell LI 19820719
05:45 pm - Thu, September 29 2016
Roseamry Jessen Tubandt said:
My mother attended school there. She also would spend the week and would go home on week ends. My grandmother and grandfather are buried in the cemetery. Would love to see the inside of the school sometime. Hoping the buildings will be there for years to come.
06:40 pm - Sun, October 30 2016
JoAnn Jernberg said:
I am a Graphic Design student at NSU- I have an advanced photography class in which we have an assignment to document a location. I would like to use this location for my assignment. Previously I did the old Academy in Redfield which is how I found out about this. I do hope it will be ok to go photograph the buildings.

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