Arena: Nine Years Later

By / May 27, 2013 / Arena, ND

We first visited Arena in May of 2004.  Nine years later, we returned to this rolling spot on the prairie in Burleigh County and found things much the same, if somewhat weathered.

St. John’s Lutheran church still stands, though the white paint has weathered considerably over the last nine years.  The cinderblock foundation on the east side of the church has continued to crumble, and will likely cause the church to topple into its own basement eventually.  The outhouse out back has also crumbled in the last nine years.

The yellow house last occupied by the grandparents of Marlon Leno (his account is in the comments section, here) is obviously visited by vandals and party-hounds from time to time — the devastated window frames tell the story.  The small white school house which was moved to the Arena town site from somewhere else still looks solid.

On the trip that led us to Arena on Memorial Weekend of 2013, we were plagued by terrible weather all morning.  Flat gray, overcast skies, fog and rain.  When we arrived in Arena, we expected more of the same.  But something incredible happened the moment we got close to the church — the sun peeked out and some blue sky started to show. We couldn’t help but smile and start snapping.

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Arena, ND
Arena, ND

Arena, ND Arena, ND

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

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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


Janette Leno-Thomas

My grandfather Albert Heimbuck helped build this church. My mom grew up on a farm about a mile from this.

Loretta Groth

I find the inside of some of these buildings absolutely fascinating, like the 70’s floral print in the house picture. Keep up the good work with the photography. It takes us all to places we could probably never find.


I know Loretta me too. It is like they just picked up and left it all.

There are just so many memories for someone that remembers.

Cyndi Leno Merrill

My dad grew up near Arena, its been many years since I’ve been there but I recognize the church

Nancy Lester Hays

My Mom, Irene Wenaas Lester and her family were all from Arena! My Grandparents were Sig and Nellie Jacobson Wenaas. It’s been many years since I was there. I had taken my Mom to visit Christ and Rose Wetzel who were still living there at that time. The store was still open and was run by Rose McIntyre Eide.

Lori Hoffman

On Dec. 5, 1914, at Arena, ND, Rev. August Hoeger (Ev. Luth) performed marriage ceremony for my grandparents. I don’t know if this was at the church or personage. The story is that they had to wait for him to finish milking a cow before he performed the ceremony. Fran Emelie Hoeger was a witness (perhaps his wife?) . I wonder if this might be the church where they were married. I believe this Rev. August Hoeger is the pastor who started the Ev Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (nursing homes).


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