Kindly step aside, Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts ... there’s a new big-ticket holiday prezzie in town. And its name is Swett, South Dakota.
After initially going up for sale in July 2014, this blink-and-you'll-miss-it — and currently bank-owned — unincorporated community located in the southwestern section of North Dakota’s significantly more popular southern neighbor is up for grabs again, this time at a deeply discounted price: $250,000 down from its previous asking price of $399,000.
A Swett deal, you might say.
So how, exactly, did this abandoned Bennett County burg that’s located just a quick drive down the road from the North American continental pole of inaccessibility and the poorest place in the United States re-enter the real estate market at a price that’s just a bit more than the median price for the average American home?
It’s a short and not all that juicy story involving divorce, foreclosure, musical tributes and a population in rapid decline since the post office closed up shop in the 1940s. (The town name is the surname of a local farmer who, in the 1930s, established a now-nonexistent grocery store that the now-nonexistent post office was located within). Until recently, the current population of Swett, by the way, was two. And those two residents were Lance Benson, the gentleman who has owned Swett on and off since 1998, and his current wife.
But it’s best not to focus on the past of this barren, lifeless prairie outpost (hey, at least there’s plenty of air). Instead let’s focus on the myriad possibilities that come along with owning your very own “world famous” South Dakota town just south of Badlands National Park. What could the future hold? And what exactly will $250,000 get you aside from some pretty unique bragging rights? Let’s find out …
6.16 acres of land
That’s a decent chunk of real estate right there! It’s not Kevin Costner-level decent, but decent nonetheless. You could do a lot with 261,360 square feet in the heart of South Dakota pheasant hunting country. I’m not exactly sure what that is (this isn’t exactly destination spa territory) but listing agent Stacie Montgomery of Keller Williams Realty believes the possibilities to be “limitless.”
“Some of the types of individuals who have been interested in the past included people who wanted to be their own mayor, people who wanted to live off-grid, several production companies thinking about reality shows, hunters who wanted to create a hunting lodge, or somebody who wants to own a bar,” Montgomery recently explained to the Rapid City Journal.
When Swett first went on the market in 2014, Montgomery was instantly bombarded with phone calls and emails from interested buyers from across the world, some serious and some seriously strange. “…the weirdest one came from a guy out of Nebraska who wanted to bring in 2,000 women from Russia, and 600 men who were felons, and he was going to build acrylic houses and run cameras 24 hours a day.”
Okay. Three decidedly more plausible written offers fell through for various reasons.
It’s worth noting that the parcel has been spruced up a touch since it first went on the market and failed to find a serious buyer. As the Journal explains, the Nebraska-based bank that currently owns Swett recently cleared away “three decaying mobile homes and an aging transport truck” in an attempt to up the town’s curb appeal. The bank also installed new town signs as the old ones were riddled with bullet holes.
Very helpful when you're living in the geographic middle of nowhere!
Swett conveniently sits along U.S. Highway 18, an east-west highway that stretches from downtown Milwaukee (roughly 800 miles) to Orin, Wyoming (roughly 200 miles). It’s Highway 18 that will (partially) lead you to the nearest big city, Rapid City, a city which is home to approximately 70, 811 more people than the town you’ve just purchased. It’s also home to the closest Walmart.
If a 2-hour-plus drive to civilization sounds off-putting, the Bennett County seat of Martin is a quick 10-minute drive down 18. Here you’ll find a Dairy Queen.
The town of Allen, the aforementioned poorest place in the United States, is located a 10-minute drive to the north. Just take a left at Boondocks Bar & Grill and keep on going straight.
A haunted house
There is one house in Swett. And that one four-bedroom house is rumored to be haunted. While there’s not much further info about the nature of the supposed paranormal activities that plague Swett’s one-and-only residential property, this is a ghost town, right?
Just something to take into careful consideration before bestowing a loved one with an entire town for Christmas.
A tavern (and a large garage)
Before it was shuttered, the longstanding Swett Tavern was the epicenter of all activity in the greater Swett area. For all intents and purposes, the bar was Swett. A ramshackle, super-rural watering hole/pool hall through and through, it sounded like the kind of place that you probably wouldn’t want to saunter in, fire up Taylor Swift on the jukebox and order a glass of pinot grigio.
With the arrival of Lance Benson, however, the Sweet Tavern became a touch less, well, authentic, while still maintaining its key clientele: wheat farmers, pheasant hunters and cowboys. Lots of cowboys. “It's now kind of a place you can come in and have a meal with your family rather than defend your family," one patron told the Journal last year. "You need a Bowie knife to get into this place and a chainsaw to get out," remarked another, quoting a passing-through Oklahoman.
What’s more, just before it was closed, the Swett Tavern was outfitted with a new horseshoe-shaped bar, grills, coolers and more. There's also a party room, stage area and a large adjacent garage that, once upon a time, was home to a tire shop and furniture store according to the listing.
Peace and quiet
And lots of it. If you want hustle-and-bustle, drive over to Martin.
Via [NBC News], [Rapid City Journal]