Spearfish ReStore rehomes piece of Deadwood history

This antique mirror, that once hung in the Franklin Hotel, was recently donated to the Spearfish Habitat ReStore, where officials arranged for it to be rehomed back in Deadwood. Pictured is Scott Engmann and Chad Davis of Habitat for Humanity and Carolyn Weber, Deadwood History Inc., executive director. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

DEADWOOD — A mirror was recently donated to the Spearfish Habitat ReStore, and after an investigation into its origin, it will find its way back to Deadwood.

The story starts earlier this month, as on Sept. 3, the Spearfish Habitat ReStore received the six-foot tall, three-foot wide gold-leaf, hand-beveled antique mirror that hung in the Historic Franklin Hotel in Deadwood until it was sold at auction in 2006.

Habitat ReStore Site Manager Chad Davis contacted the Deadwood Historic Preservation Office and connected with City Archivist Mike Runge, who went to the store, photographed the mirror, and consulted with Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker. Kuchenbecker called Carolyn Weber, executive director of Deadwood History, Inc. (DHI) who was interested in adding the mirror to the organization’s collections.

“When the donation came into the Habitat ReStore, the donor told Chad that the mirror was purchased at the Historic Franklin Hotel auction in 2006,” Weber said. “This type of item is not something the ReStore typically receives. Chad felt because it was an older piece and had a tie to Deadwood that perhaps it should be in Deadwood.”

Weber described the piece as an ornate, beveled wall mirror, in very good condition.

“I cannot be certain about the date of the mirror. It could be anywhere from 1880s to 1920s,” she added.

Davis said the mirror was a private donation by a lady from Sturgis.

“The Habitat ReStore was contacted by the donor when she was emptying out her mother’s home,” Davis explained. “Upon examination of the mirror, it was quickly apparent that the piece was not a faux-antique and quite possibly from the Franklin as claimed. The ReStore is not an antique shop per-say, we have a few antiques, mostly doors and windows, but nothing on the scale of this mirror. I felt out of my league as to a path forward, so I consulted my staff. The staff and I thought the piece would be better off back either at the Franklin or in the possession of a collector.”

“Because it is a beautiful piece, it does have a tie to Deadwood, and there is a place for it in an upcoming exhibit, I decided Deadwood History would like to have it,” Weber said.

A ceremonial sale of the mirror was held Thursday.

Davis is enthusiastic about being part of Deadwood’s historic preservation process.

“As a representative for Habitat, my task is address adequate housing throughout the Hills by the resale of donated and surplus goods,” Davis said. “That task also involves bringing in new partners to address adequate housing. If Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity can gain more partners for our mission while in participating in historic preservation, that’s a win for Habitat and for Deadwood.”

Weber said the mirror will be put to good use interpreting a historic aspect of Deadwood.

Weber said the mirror is historically significant because it has a tie to the Franklin Hotel prior to it undergoing a major renovation.

“The mirror will be displayed and interpreted at The Brothel,” Weber said. “It will fit in beautifully with other furnishings we have selected to outfit the space. Once the project is complete, Deadwood History will offer tours that interpret the history of prostitution and the brothels in Deadwood.”

The Brothel to be located at 610 Main St., is anticipated to open in the summer of 2020.

“I am very excited about this mirror. It will be a great enhancement to the new exhibit,” Weber said. “Thanks to the donor, Chad Davis, Kevin Kuchenbecker, and Mike Runge for making this happen. A piece of history is coming back to Deadwood.”

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