Passing Through Fordville

By / August 19, 2011 / Points of Interest

Fordville just happened to be on our route as we explored a few towns in Walsh and Ramsey counties.  It is not a ghost town or a near-ghost town… more like Pleasantville.  According to the 2000 Census, Fordville had 266 residents, shrinking to 212 in 2010.

The most prominent landmark was the Ford Theater, a beautiful brick building that’s been carefully tended, but in need of help with the roof.

The owner kindly posted a flyer which reads as follows:

FORD THEATRE

Est. 1948 by
Hub (Hulbert) and Richard Casement

Construction by: Martin Hustad, Peter and John Peterson.

Brickwork by Arnie Steen

First movie shown: “Little Mr. Jim” on March 19th, 1948.
Starring Butch Jenkins, James Craig, and Francis Clifford

Theatre was closed in the early 1960’s
Purchased by Donald and Jean Omdahl on Dec. 8th, 1970
Used for community plays and gospel services in the 1980’s
Purchased by DeLon Freije
from Don Omdahl on June 18th, 2010
Don went home to Jean on August 31st, 2010

Future plans: Restore theatre, display train collection for public display and offer tours of the theatre.
Popcorn sales on Thursday evenings through the summer
Any help with roof repairs would be much appreciated.

There were a few structures that looked ‘semi-vacant’– in that gray area between seldom used and used every day.  No real abandoned structures however.  So we just took a few shots that looked nice.

The clock struck noon while we were visiting and the air raid siren on top of this tower sounded.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

About Author

Troy Larson

Troy Larson is a father, husband, author, photographer, publisher and devoted cat person. Troy is the President of Sonic Tremor Media and co-founder of GhostsofNorthDakota.com

32 Comments

Lindsey (Ford) Bell

Do you have any info on who Fordville was named after? My maiden name is Ford and many of my Ford relatives came from Walsh County. LOVE your site!!

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Kris Benson

Love Ghosts of ND–and especially the Fordville pictures. My dad grew up on a farm just outside of that tiny town.

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Noreen Hagness

Noon, six pm, and ten pm sirens still happen in Pembina too. Sure helped remind the kids when to be home!

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Susan Mjoness Bugge

I was in Fordville in the 1970’s for a wedding. I haven’t been back there since. I love your website–I am a history buff. Even though I no longer live in North Dakota, North Dakota still lives in me!! I am anxiously awaiting your next post!!!!

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Dean Sevigny

I remember playing Basketball against Fordville in the 60’s when I played for Edinburgh. It seemed much bigger than.

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Nancy Adamson

My grandparents lived in Fordville and I remember staying at their home and have so many wonderful memories from there. Really a nice community.

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Brad Iverson

My God-parents still run the store in fordville. My mother and Kris’s dad are brother and sister.

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Richard

I just visited the website…looks good. Hope your venture with the theater is a success. You could show some old “flicks” from the 20’s – 40’s. I imagine some “shorts” or “comedies” like Laural and Hardy.

“The General” a silent movie of Buster Keaton’s about trains. It is a roll on the floor funny.

Richard Foat (seller of the 2055 Locomotive)

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Mavis (Bell) Ness

When the town of Fordville was started in 1905 the name was originally Medford in connection with the name of the early postoffice by that name as well as the name of the township where it was located. But as service progressed by the Soo Line, it became increasingly difficult to correctly direct the traffic, there being another town on the same railroad line located in Wisconsin by the same name. It was therefore decided to change the name of this new town. And so … it was decided to take the last syllable appearing in the names of two of the earliest postoffices “Ford” out of Medford and “ville” out of Bellville. Thus on July 1, 1910 the name officially became Fordville. (Taken from “History of Fordville and Surrounding Area” by G.K. Ness, published in 1973.

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Chad Omdahl

My dad Donald Omdahl owned the theatre and we lived in the structure attached to it! The structure at one time contained a Beauty Shop, Dentist Office, and a Doctor’s Office! The two offices shared a common waiting room (our living room). The kitchen was the Dentist’s office. The theatre was used for a Christian
Coffee House and school plays. We made our living quarters work with a family of eight!!

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Kathy (Gemmill) Bloom

Many happy hours were spent playing with the Omdahl girls, and there was always a warm welcome from their cheerful parents, Jean and Don. I remember listening to Christian music groups perform in the theatre in the 1980’s. To me, it was an exciting place to be! Chad, didn’t they also perform some school musicals in the theatre at that time?

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Ancestry Sisters

Researching and looking for Andrew/Anders Moe, whose father murdered his wife and then killed himself. I noticed that Andrew/Anders Moe is mentioned int he book by G.K. Ness and wondered if this the same orphaned male who I’m looking for? Does anyone know anything about this?
Thank you.

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Marlene Larson

My family lived close to Fordville although we attended church in Dahlen and I went to school in Dahlen, also. During my growing up years, we went to Fordville every Saturday night in the summer and traded eggs and cream for groceries with Neil Bannerman at his store. We also had to visit the Johnson Store, Jehlicka’s meat market and I never missed a Saturday night movie at the Ford Theater. Maridell Ness made the best popcorn there. I wrote news for the Dahlen area for the Tri County Sun for years also. Neil had a little Drive In restaurant there, too, so we had burgers there or went home to fry up some hamburger from Jehlicka’s – it was the BEST!! Oh, and my dad got his hair cut at the barber shop there, too. I also went to Dr. Lommen and Dr. Gillespie – those aren’t such pleasant memories, though! It was important to get to town early to get a good parking place so you could see everyone who came to town and visit with neighbors and friends. There was parallel parking down the middle of main street. The town was bustling back then! North Dakota nice! Lots of great memories!

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Ann Stevens Lee

I enjoyed seeing the pictures of my home town! And I will admit a tear or two. I watched “The Ten Commandments” in that theater and probably other Saturday afternoon matinees I don’t remember. Thank you for the walk down memory lane!

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Joe Miller

Fordville Grain Company was purchased by my Grandfather Dean Miller and was closed in 1996 from general business. We continue to house our grain there for our farm. My great grandmother was the first to deliver grain there when it was orginally built I think around 1905. It use to be the cheapest place in town to buy a bottle of pop!

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Kay Kreklau

Great pictures — so many wonderful memories! I grew up in Fordville. My mom, Grace Berdahl, worked for Dean Miller at Fordville Grain Company.

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carol Johnson

Both my parents grew up in Fordville. I loved the time I spent there visiting my grandma and cousins. I too saw “The Ten Commandments” at the theater with my cousins!!

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Gene Nelson

My Grandfather owned the hardware store until the 1950’s. My brother and I lived with my grandparents for a couple years right after WWII. I was there a few years ago and was sad to see the Lutheren church was not as grand as I remembered.

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Vanessa

There was two towns close to each other called Medford and Bellville. They took ford out of Medford and ville out of Bellville. So that’s how Fordville’s name was found.Spurlock

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carol Johnson

Joe and Annie were friends of my grandparents. I still have the doll crib Joe made for me 60 yrs ago.

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Diane Skindlov Halvorson

What a wonderful surprise to find this website! It was a fun trip down memory lane. I, too, lived in Fordville for 10 years in the 50’s and 60’s while my dad served as pastor at the Lutheran church. Hi to Chad and Ann….it’s been many years since we were in school together.
Thanks to all of you who brought back memories of the movie theatre, Dr. Gillespie, Dr. Lommen, the meat market, grocery store (remember grinding coffee for purchase). I also remember the Variety Store, the post office with combination codes for the mail boxes, the general store attached to the grocery store, the outdoor ice rink, the library, and playing capture the flag on the school grounds.

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john mann

If there was a way to make a living for me in Fordville, I would happily donate my time and labor to restoring that theater. Seriously, we’re losing so much of America as these town wither I’d be proud to be a part of saving something timeless such as this. Anybody looking for a dishwasher? a carpenter? clerk? ditch digger?
I’m currently in Colorado with nothing much keeping me here and I LOATHE the city.

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Tom O'Neil

Thank you for the info, still come back to the farm and to visit Mom and Dad’s grave site

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Mary

I am caught up in Genealogy, and I have been pouring through some old postcards I found. When my mother in law, Margaret Rosenow, lived in Pinewood Minnesota back in 1926 she would correspond with a lot friends by letter or postcards. One of the friends she had only signed her name Mrs. Hove, from Fordville, ND. I didn’t realize there was a Fordville. Does anyone know if there was a Hove and if so maybe her children or grandchildren might have saved correspondence from Margaret Rosenow. Thank you to anyone who can help. Mary.

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