No, it is not a church.
The new building going up just south of Reptile Gardens on Highway 16 six miles south of Rapid City does, indeed, have a steeple but not one with any religious significance.
Rather, the building and its 125-foot high steeple is a reproduction, of sorts, of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The colonial-era brick and white clapboard building will house the Black Hills’ newest patriotic-themed tourism site: Independence Hall: Home of Founding Fathers Black Hills when it opens this summer. Opening date is tentatively set for June 1.
Inside, visitors will find a life-size sculptural rendition of John Trumbull’s famous “Declaration of Independence” painting created by a talented team of western South Dakota artists. They have developed a unique art process to create sculpted figures of 47 men, five of whom are shown presenting Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Second Continental Congress in 1776. Visitors can see the stunningly lifelike forms of Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingstone presenting the document to John Hancock while the rest of the Congress looks on.
If you’re not familiar with the painting, just look at the back of any $2 bill, or check it out here.