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Passing Through Fordville

Walsh County

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 Theatre, 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

Comments
25 Responses to “Passing Through Fordville”
  1. Lindsey (Ford) Bell says:

    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!!

  2. Kris Benson says:

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

  3. Tom Pence says:

    Noon sirens are a memory….. as is the 6 pm and 10 pm curfew sirens

  4. Noreen Hagness says:

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

  5. Susan Mjoness Bugge says:

    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!!!!

  6. Dean Sevigny says:

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

  7. Nancy Adamson says:

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

  8. Brad Iverson says:

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

  9. Richard says:

    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)

  10. Mavis (Bell) Ness says:

    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.

  11. Tanya Thorvilson says:

    I live in Fordville and LOVED seeing it on your site!

  12. Chad Omdahl says:

    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!!

    • Ann Stevens Lee says:

      Hi Chad! I saw old Doc Gillespie in your house! Lol!

    • Kathy (Gemmill) Bloom says:

      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?

  13. 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.

  14. Marlene Larson says:

    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!

  15. Ann Stevens Lee says:

    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!

  16. Joe Miller says:

    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!

  17. Kay Kreklau says:

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

  18. carol Johnson says:

    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!!

    • Gene Nelson says:

      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.

  19. Vanessa says:

    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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