Someone You Should Know: Cathedral Historic District leader

Mary Glenski is this week's "Someone You Should Know."
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:13 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Mary Glenski has lived in the Cathedral District since 1965 — most of those years, in this corner house, which was built in 1885.

“The reason I still live here is because we worked so hard on the house,” said Mary.

This house was a busy place. It’s where Mary and her husband Jim raised a big family.

“I have nine children, and eight of them are boys. So my daughter really had it made because she knew all their friends,” said Mary.

Now 93, but looking much younger than her years, Mary played a big role in getting her neighborhood to become the first in South Dakota to be named on the National Register of Historic Places. It officially became the Cathedral Historic District in 1974.

“When we became a historic district, the city did us a big favor, and they changed the zoning to single-family and grandfathered in any building that had more than one family in it,” said Mary.

Mary also played a big role in organizing the Cathedral Historic District Neighborhood Watch group forty years ago. They still meet today.

“When we had our picnics — and we’ve had an annual neighborhood night out — Mary would bring her homemade root beer. She still does. And everybody would come for Mary’s homemade root beer,” said resident Beverly Oliver.

“We have tons of positive things happening here all of the time. But there’s a few challenges, and whenever there’s a challenge, one of the first neighbors we go to is Mary because either she knows who to go to to solve the challenge, or she has an experience from the past to share, or she has words of wisdom that help you work through the challenge,” said resident Lura Roti.

“She’s kind of the backbone of the neighborhood. With Mary’s direction, she’s got things going and made this neighborhood what it is. It’s a good place to live,” said Gayle Fossum.

Mary was also involved in politics, serving terms on the Sioux Falls City Council and then in the State Legislature.

“Gary Hanson was the Mayor. He was a good man to work with. He laughed when he said, ‘When we heard when you were elected, people in City Hall told me that one is going to cause you trouble. She comes here all the time.’ Jim used to say, ‘You go to the meeting, and I’ll stay home with the kids, and then you can tell me about it when you come,’” said Mary.

She’s a pioneer, a leader and a mentor who has her fingerprints on many things you see here.

“To know someone who has a history in the neighborhood, you can tell us things that we wouldn’t even know to ask about,” said Beverly.

“Which used to bother people in City Hall,” said Mary.

“And we found delightful,” said Beverly.