Martin Jacobson was well known in the early days of Minot. He had a large ranch south of Burlington and built the Jacobson Building on the north end of Main Street that housed Jacobson Hardware, Union National Bank and the Opera House. The large house he built at
304 South Main Street
was a surprise for his wife who suffered from tuberculosis. He built the house
to accommodate his six children and also because he was fond of hosting large
social gatherings. During the 1920s and into the 1930s, the home served as a
rooming house for nurses employed at . From the later
1930s until 1944, it served as a public rooming house. Ben Thomas purchased the
home in 1944 and with some remodeling, opened it as Thomas Funeral Home in 1945 Trinity
Friday, April 28, 2017
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Valker-Christensen Company –
This was a wholesale-retail seed and feed business, operating one of the largest seed houses in the state, eventually making a specialty of processing and distributing grass seeds throughout the
and many foreign
countries. It was founded in 1920 by George Valker and A. M. Christensen.
Christensen, who became sole owner in 1928, came to this state in 1910 as a
teenager. He walked from United States Chicago to his uncle’s
farm west of New England, North
Dakota and then got a summer job at the experiment station. The boy became
so interested in his work there that he devoted much of his life to the seed
business. Later in his career, he also served as president of the Dakota
Transfer and Storage Company and the Minot Building and Loan Association (now
Midwest Federal), as well as the Minot Association of Commerce. Dickinson
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Sidewalk Lights – Vault Lights or as they were commonly called, Sidewalk Lights, are glass prizms set into sidewalks to let light into vaults and basements below. Prizms were used instead of flat glass to disperse the light. Flat glass would cast a spot on the floor below whereas the prizm would spread the light out over a larger area. The idea originated in the 1840’s as Deck Lights. They were used on ships to let light below decks, especially when an open flame would be hazardous. The idea caught on in cities in sidewalks to illuminate below grade. Many businesses in Downtown Minot had the Sidewalk Lights in the sidewalks in front of the store. The basements of many businesses went under the sidewalk. This was because many had freight elevators in the sidewalk. The heat from the basement below helped to keep snow melted. By the 1930’s they were on their way out as electricity became less expensive. Now they are endangered relics, or antiques. There are probably still some in sidewalks in
downtown area. Minot
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The Empire was located next to the Thomas Funeral Home. It was one of the last theaters of its type with the screen situated as it was, behind you as you enter the theater itself. The Empire also had a balcony, reportedly the home of many budding romances. At one point they also sold a Movie Series Package that provided a strip of 10 tickets for $2. Each ticket got you into a Saturday movie. They had the line-up set in advance with the movie name on each ticket. Among the movies shown as part of the series were "Five Weeks in a Balloon", "Zotz" and some of the "The Three Stooges Meet..." movies. As a Child, you could save the medallions form your milk cartons and redeem them for tickets to the Saturday show. At times various churches used the Empire Theater for their services when their church was going through construction or other mishaps. I believe the Empire also held “live’ concerts at one time. In the late 60’s, my name was on a list of people banned from the Empire and at that time Oak Park Theater. One of my friends lit a cigarette in the balcony and inserted the fuse of a Cherry Bomb, (a very large firecracker) in the cigarette. When it burned down, the Cherry Bomb exploded. We could not go to the movies unless we found someone to open the back door so we could sneak into the theater. The site is now a parking lot for Trinity Hospital.
Monday, April 24, 2017
1933 - Montgomery Wards Builds in Downtown Minot
Montgomery Wards – The building that was home to Montgomery Wards started life in 1933 when construction began. It is on the Northwest corner of
Street and 1st Avenue . It replaced two
smaller buildings that over the years, housed a lodge hall, a meat market,
telephone exchange, a bank, post office, department store, and drugstore, among
others. It became Montgomery Wards in May 1934. All floors with the exception
of the top floor were used for retail. There was also an automotive repair
department on the south side, near the alley. The Greenberg Men’s Store was
next door. Greenberg’s exploded and burned in 1947. In 1958 Montgomery Wards
added 25 feet to their building, expanding into the former Greenberg’s
location. At that time they moved their automotive repair department to 3rd St Northeast,
next to the . The building
was known as the Emporium and was owned by James McClintock of White
In September of 1982, the building was purchased by local business men and
renovated to what it is today Edina, Minnesota
Friday, April 21, 2017
Minot Auto Club
The Minot Auto Club was organized to promote road building and maintenance, to better regulate traffic and to prevent Auto thefts. It held its first annual picnic at
in June of 1921. It was attended by over 4000 people and more than 512 cars. In
1930 after his sixth accident, Judge William Murray considered issuing himself
a restraining order prohibiting his diving an automobile anymore. Traffic
signals were tried in various locations, but most drivers ignored them. They
did not use them again until 1939. The city installed a signal at Rice Lake 2nd St NW
and 4th Avenue
and also in downtown .
In 1935 the State Patrol came into existence and drivers licenses were
required. The new Patrol Superintendant and his four officers went to county
seats like Minot
and issued drivers licenses to reluctant drivers for payment of a small fee. Minot
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Palda Family and the Elks Lodge
Elks Lodge – The Minot Elks Lodge Number 1089 was chartered on July 12, 1908. The first location was on the Southwest corner of
Main Street and 2nd Avenue.
The cornerstone for this building was laid on May 22,1909. The First Exalted
Ruler was LJ Palda. The Palda Family is the only family in to have had father, son and grandson
serve as Exhalted Rulers. The Elks Lodge eventually moved west to a new home on
the Northwest corner of Broadway and Minot 2nd
Avenue. This building was 2 floors and a bar and
parking in the basement. The upstairs ballroom was home to many parties and
Elks Lodge - 1964
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Dr. E C Stone – Pt 2
Dr. Stone also worked out of a Hospital on 9th Avenue NW, across the street from MSU.. Some say the hospital was referred to as the Stone Hospital, as the picture shows it was Mercy Hospital. In 1935 Minot’s Mercy Hospital was located at 505 9th Avenue NW. The phone number was 114 and the resident surgeon was Dr. E. C. Stone. The first appendectomy performed was in a sod house in 1905. Mercy Hospital was regarded as a modern hospital that offered facilities equal to the best in the land. The patients received necessary care from doctor and registered nurses at a minimum expense. From June 1, 1934 to Jun 1, 1935, 697 surgical operations were performed at Minot’s Mercy Hospital. In addition to that, 536 mediacal cases were done during the same period. The total number of patients cared for was 1233. Prior to moving to the location on 9th St. NW. Mercy Hospital was located on Main Street in Downtown Minot.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Monday, April 17, 2017
Rueb’s Camera –
In 1951 Rueb Forsberg started a camera club while working at the camera department in Minot Drug. Rueb’s Camera opened in 1957 on
one block east of the . In 1962 Rueb’s
Camera moved to its location on the northeast corner of Federal
Building 2nd Avenue and Main Street. In May
of 1980 Rueb opened the first 1 hour photo lab in and the 11th in the
country. At one time Rueb’s had 15 labs in seven states. Rueb also published a
book (booklet) titled “Mouse that Roared”, which is a pictorial history of the
flood of 1969. It is a fairly rare book to find these days. North Dakota
Friday, April 14, 2017
Famous Actor Once Lived in Minot
Boris Karloff – The Jacobson Opera House was host to many traveling theater companies in the early days of Minot. One of those theatrical companies was the Harry St. Clair Company. This group had an actor with them that would one day become famous. That actor was Boris Karloff, best known later in his career for the horror movies he starred in. Karloff spent 60 weeks in Minot back about 1915 when he was acting with the Harry St. Clair Company. They were performing at the Opera House and would have stayed longer but according to Karloff, they ran out of plays. Probably not many people are aware of the fact that Boris Karloff was a life member of the Minot Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented to him in 1957 by J. Warren Bacon of Minot at the television showing of “This is Your Life”, about Boris Karloff. A side note, Bacon, then 12 years old often ran errands of Boris Karloff. Bacon’s father was the manager of the Opera House at the time.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Jacobson Opera House –
The Jacobson Opera House was built by Martin Jacobson, known as “The Hardware Man”. The Opera House had a capacity of 800 people with a stage that was 30 feet by 50 feet. The Opera House was built in 1902 at a cost of $30,000. The grand opening was on January 5, 1903. The opening play was “The Count of Monte Crisco” attended by over 600 people. Box seats were auctioned off, the highest price paid was $55.00. A note about the curtain on the stage. It contained advertisements and when the show began the curtain was rolled up. The Opera House had the reputation of “the finest west of St Paul”. It was also the home to town meetings, political rallies, dances, parties, school events and other public events. The Opera House was on the third floor of the Jacobson Building. In 1920, the Opera House was used as the Scottish Rote Temple for the Masons. The Opera House was destroyed by a fire in 1923 and was never rebuilt. The first Opera House was on the northeast corner of Main Street and Central Avenue. In the late 60’s the building was the home of the USO and it is now the home of the Taube Museum of Art.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Union National Bank –
Union National Bank began its existence in Minot in 1905, in the front of the Jacobson Hardware building. The second floor was home to Offices and the Post Office. The ground floor housed Martin Jacobson’s Hardware Store. In 1923 the building, bank included was gutted by fire. Within eight months a new building had been erected on the northeast corner of Main Street and Central Avenue, the same location as the old building. Union National Bank remained at that location until 1963 when they built a new bank at 17 First Avenue SW. The bank is in the same location but became First Bank and is now known as US Bank. US Bank also has drive through tellers on South Broadway.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Jacobson Hardware occupied the main floor of the Jacobson Building on Main Street and Central Avenue. The Opera House was on part of the second and all of the third floor. Martin Jacobson, Known as “the Hardware Man”, started the hardware store after becoming a successful rancher near Des Lacs. In 1898, Peter Fugelso became the bookkeeper of the hardware store until 1901 when he resigned to become the Postmaster. He later resigned as postmaster to join with Martin’s nephew, Doc Jacobson, to purchase the hardware store on January 1, 1907. The business was destroyed by fire in 1923. The building was rebuilt . The Jacobson – Fugelso Hardware store eventually moved to the middle of the block just east of the alley on Central Avenue and survived for many years. Jacobson – Fugelso carried a full line of hardware in addition to Schwinn Bicycles, Toro Mowers, Delta Power Tools and Benjamin Moore Paint.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Asplund Motors in Minot
Asplund Toyota – Wendall Asplund started his first service garage and body shop on Minot’s north side in 1927. The first franchise Asplund had was the Pullman Coach. Through the years Asplund also sold Kaiser vehicles, Willys and finally in 1955, Studebaker. Asplund eventually became the Toyota dealer. When I first had dealings with Asplund Toyota they were located on South Broadway, just south of the old Frosaker Motor building. The service/shop entrance was located on Broadway. Driving in was no problem. To back out, you needed someone to watch traffic as you exited. Asplund eventually built a dealership on north hill. The Toyota franchise was purchased by Ryan Chevrolet and then by Minot Chrysler.
Friday, April 7, 2017
Grand Hotel Fire – 1960
The Grand Hotel was completely destroyed by fire o January 27,1960. A number of other businesses were also destroyed by the fire. Those include The Triangle Dress Shop and PW Miller Co. Both were next door and the either one may have been where the blaze started. Other businesses lost in the fire were the Grand Barber Shop, Grand Billiard Parlor, Grand Café, Pioneer Bar, Grand Studio and the S&H Green Stamp Store. Another business, in a building to the north of the hotel was Minot Roofing and Cornice. One person stated that he had “saved the day”, referring to his part in the Grand Hotel fire. He maintains that they ran out of beer at the bar located on 1st street so he made and emergency trip to the Gamble Robinson ware house. Gamble Robinson was across the street from the now Rail Road Museum. Being an employee of Gamble Robinson he loaded up the city delivery vehicle with 100 cases of beer and delivered it to the bar. Well I guess maybe he did save the day?
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Grand Hotel – (The Original)
the Grand Hotel, at one time known as the Lexington Hotel, was on the Northwest corner of Central Avenue and 1st Street NW. The Grand Hotel was built by Olaf A Olson in 1906. An addition was added in 1912, making it one of the largest buildings in Minot at the time. The Grand Hotel had 100 rooms and flourished until it was destroyed by fire on January 27,1960. More than 1000 people turned out to watch the fire. In addition to the Minot Fire Department, men from the Minot Air Force Base rushed to help fight the fire and provide crowd and traffic control. I was informed that one of the fireman from the base wanted to drive the new pumper truck into the Grand Hotel on the Central Avenue level. He was not aware that there were two more floors below the main floor on Central. The pumper truck would have ended up in the basement. The location of the Grand Hotel is now a below grade parking lot on Central Avenue used by the Brady Martz Accounting Firm.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Northwestern Bell Telephone Co.
– NW Bell was located at 201 South Broadway .. Across the street to the east from Sweetheart Bakery and across the street to the south from the former Elks Club. In its “heyday” the company employed about 200 people. Operator services closed in December 1977. The plant division remained for a few years. Eventually all services were moved to Bismarck. The building was torn down and is now a parking lot.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Northern States Power – in 1901 a franchise for phone and electric service was granted to the Minot Light and Telephone Company. The franchise was sold in 1911 and the name was changed to the Consumers Power Company. The name was changed again in 1916 to Northern States Power. NSP was located on Main Street until 1967 when it moved to 24 Second Avenue SE. The company was split. The telephone division became Minot Telephone and is now SRT. The electric division is now Xcel Energy.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Northwest Sporting Goods –
Northwest Sporting Goods began in 1946 as Mellum’s Sporting Goods at 110 Central Avenue. In 1948 it moved to 15 1st Street SW and became Northwest Sporting Goods. When the building they were in was going to be demolished, Northwest Sporting Goods moved into the empty S&L Building on Main Street. Another move happened in 1974 when Northwest Sporting Goods moved to South Broadway into the former South Hill Super Value building. They offered a full line of sporting goods from hunting and fishing to team sports. The building is now the home of the Goodwill Store.
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