In 1948, Melinda Bell McCrossan, the founder of the Ranch, directed that a trust be established in memory of her husband, a pioneer Sioux Falls businessman. From the onset, her declared intent was to create “a home where boys find New Hope for a Better Life.”
In 1953, Mrs. McCrossan appointed a Board of Directors who would help her purchase four military buildings from the former Sioux Falls Air Force Base. The buildings were then moved to the current location and were prepared to be a home to the boys who would soon move to the Ranch. The original trustees were Adolph Lodmell, Roy Hobson, M.T. Woods, Wayne Sutherland and Francis Regan, all Sioux Falls business and professional men.With the housing work completed, the Board of Directors employed on June 4, 1955, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Mayer as the first administrators of the Ranch. Mr. Mayer was a prominent Sioux Falls businessman and a state senator.
In October of 2007, the Ranch launched its first community-based program. The Evening Treatment Program was started upon the recommendation of DSS and DOC. The program served at-risk boys and girls ages 10-18 in Sioux Falls and was designed to provide structured therapy/treatment in the after school hours to prevent youth from being placed outside of the home. The Ranch also launched several other services including a community reintegration program, short-term assessment services, respite care, and crisis stabilization. In 2011, the Evening Treatment Program was discontinued due to changes in the childcare industry.
In July of 2009, the Ranch received a gift of a church from the Bethel Lutheran Congregation. The church was moved onto the campus; with the help of many generous donors, a basement and foyer addition were built and the church was renovated. The church is used for Bible studies, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, weekly Worship services, fellowship and a place for the community to hold meetings and more. The church is named the “Mark Froehlich Spiritual Center” thanks to a gift by the original builder of the church Floyd Froehlich from Sioux Falls. His son Mark was taken early due to heart complications and was the last funeral in the church before it was moved to the McCrossan campus. The church was built the same year McCrossan Boys Ranch was started in 1955. It’s original home was by Sioux Valley Hospital (now Sanford Health) and then it was moved to 26th and Valley View Road where it was home to the Bethel Lutheran Congregation. Now, it is at its final home at McCrossan Boys Ranch.
In 1970, Walter Schaefer came to McCrossan Boys Ranch as Executive Director. He continued in that position until December of 1997.
In December 1971, the Ranch suffered a serious setback when fire destroyed the barn that had been constructed in 1957. Several animals were lost in the fire and the cause was never determined. In autumn of 1973, the barn was replaced on a new site with an all-metal livestock center. It is dedicated in the memory of long time trustee Roy Hobson. In 1978, the Ranch began to operate its own on-campus approved special education program. For years, classes were held out of Mathers cottage until in 1996 the Rysdon Student Union was built housing the school, kitchen, dining room and a training facility. In June of 1998, educational services were contracted out to East Dakota Educational Cooperative. This has proven to be an excellent relationship as the boys are excelling in their academics as well as maintaining appropriate behaviors in the classroom.
In 2010, the road to McCrossan Boys Ranch got a major facelift. The north part of Marion Road was paved and a new Marion Road ramp onto I-90 was completed. The commute to McCrossan Boys Ranch no longer includes any gravel roads. A new driveway was also completed to the campus and the old driveway was abandoned because of the proximity to the exit ramps.
In 2011, McCrossan Boys Ranch built a new Center for Independent Living that houses 24 boys in apartments on campus. The 8,000 square foot building serves youth ages 17-20 in need of learning independent living skills.
A new 80 ‘ x 150’ foot indoor riding arena named after loyal board member and donor Myron Van Buskirk and his wife Joan was opened in 2014. The “Van Buskirk Riding Arena” gives our boys a chance to participate in therapy, training, lessons, and other indoor recreational activities year-round at the Ranch.
The Ranch has offered many services throughout the years and now has a number of programs that are offered. A well-known hitch program has been a part of the Ranch for many years that has proven to be very therapeutic for the boys. We also have individual therapy, chemical dependency services, psychiatric care, restorative justice, moral development and many recreational offerings. The Ranch has a 4-H Club, High School Athletics and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle, just to name a few.
On June 26, 1955, the official dedication ceremonies were held. Several months later, the first five boys moved in. Less than a year from the opening of the Ranch, Melinda McCrossan passed away leaving a legacy that still exists today. It was her vision “that with good food, moral support, religious training and good education opportunities, these boys will grow to be the finest and best of young men.” It was this vision that has helped to change the lives of thousands of boys for many years to come. It is a legacy that is still carried on today by our dedicated and caring staff.
May 8, 1959, was a big day at McCrossan Boys Ranch. Our first boy marked the end of his stay at the Ranch with his graduation from high school.
Since then, the Ranch has continued to grow. The old barracks were replaced with new brick cottages that would house the boys. On October 23, 1966, Governor Nils Boe dedicated the first brick cottage building.In 1967, the McCrossan Auxiliary was established by Mrs. Mildred (Hugh) Robinson. The auxiliary was a group of women who met each month to help out with Ranch activities. This group still exists today.
Currently, McCrossan’s has the capacity to serve 53 boys in group care. Brian Roegiers joined the McCrossan Boys Ranch team as Executive Director in June of 1998 and continues in that capacity at present.
A new gymnasium was also built in 2004 to meet the physical activity needs of the boys at the Ranch. The gym houses a full-sized basketball court, fitness center, locker room, office space and a concession area. In May of 2006, the Ranch School gained full accreditation by the South Dakota State Department of Education. With this special honor, the Ranch can now issue full credit for classes taken and issue diplomas and hold graduation ceremonies. On May 22nd, the first five boys from McCrossan Boys Ranch had an official Graduation Commencement Ceremony from McCrossan Boys Ranch High School and received their diplomas.