Front Street Fargo, 1909

Fargo’s Front Street, 1909

If you’re fascinated by history, you know postcards are really a simple pleasure. You can tease so many stories out of a few fine details when you look close.

This intersection in Fargo is significant in the history of our state as the place where Fargo literally rose from the ground after the NP Avenue Railroad Bridge was completed in 1872, less than a mile to the east.  It was the first railroad bridge across the Red River at a time when this was still the Dakota Territory. The Northern Pacific stopped at the depot just out of frame on the right and thus, this city block became the first stop in Dakota for the majority of travelers from the east and was frequently the first time many had experienced what they perceived as “the west.”

Moody’s department store would have been just out of frame on the left of the scene below, and there are other interesting landmarks in this postcard, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the postcard.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

I found this card when I was nosing around in a box at an antique store. It shows Front Street in Fargo (with Broadway intersecting in the foreground) circa 1909, a street known today as Main Avenue. As you can see, the card was in pretty bad shape, so I started by doing a quick restoration.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

That’s not perfect, but a little better.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

Dr. Mallarian had his offices right on the corner in the same building as the bank, which was founded in 1878 as the First National Bank. However by the time of this photo in 1909, the bank had changed hands and was known as Commercial Bank of Fargo.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

Signs for Emery & Johnson Cycle Company and H.F. Emery Hardware.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

I count three drug stores on this block, a dentist, an insurance agency, and whatever H.G. Edwards sold.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

Order Book Two

Front Street Fargo, 1909

Two interesting stories here… on the left, the old DeLendrecie’s department store.  At the time this photo was taken, it was only two stories (see photo top) but it would later have three more stories added.  DeLendrecies moved from this building to the mall in 1973 and was purchased and turned into a Herberger’s store in 1998, ending a one hundred year run.  The downtown DeLendrecies building has been redeveloped into the Block 6 apartment complex.

On the right, the Fargo Waldorf, a hotel that was ingeniously located directly across the street from the Northern Pacific depot.  Like the DeLendrecies building, the Waldorf is yet to reach its full stature at the time of this photo — it’s four stories, but a fifth would be added later.  The hotel was destroyed by fire on December 13th, 1951.

Main Avenue, Fargo

Here’s the block as it looks today, occupied by trendy stores, coffee houses and a pizza joint.  The street is considerably wider, and the former DeLendrecies building at the end of the block is now five stories.  All things considered, it’s a small miracle that almost all of these buildings still stand.

Main Avenue, Fargo

If you have suggestions on historically significant North Dakota places that we should feature here, please feel free to contact us.

See Also: More of the Fargo Waldorf

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Comments
7 Responses to “Fargo’s Front Street, 1909”
  1. Robbin Schindele says:

    I seem to remember going to school with a pretty, short, dark haired girl with the last name DeLendrecie. It would have been in the late ’50s or early ’60s. Hope she’s doing well.
    Thanks for the memories

  2. Judy Niles says:

    Visiting Fargo relatives from my home in Mandan, a shopping trip to DeLendrecie’s was always a thrill. Fargo was a big city to us! Bismarck also had a DeLendrecie’s, too, but it was much smaller than the store in Fargo. It’s nice to see the current buildings so colorfully restored!

    • Neill Goltz says:

      Totally coincidentally, I started to read Louise Erdrich’s “The Beet Queen” two nights ago. One of the characters moves to Fargo to work at DeLendrecies!

  3. Bill Marvin says:

    What a wonderful article….From “back in the day”, thru now…Well done…..Really enjoyed this…..Thank’s

  4. Neill Goltz says:

    DeLendrecie’s had those classic tube systems that they used for internal messaging that preceded telephones and emails. There were walk-around-balconies that surrounded the display floors with tubes going everywhere to connect the departments. Wish some could find and post a picture. Here’s the best I could do via internet search: http://www.eduhacker.net/libraries/5-reasons-libraries-fail-written-1864.html#jp-carousel-1357

  5. Cheryl Dwyer says:

    Was at the deLendrecie building for lunch the other day with my husband. The VIP Room in the lowest level is a very quaint, medium priced, eclectic place to eat. Took a couple of photos inside that turned out well, would post them if I would be allowed. Several businesses are located within the building as well as apartments on the upper floors! Love the woodwork. The building has so much character, it is so fun to see and I also remember shopping there when I was young! The Anthony’s store in downtown Moorhead also had the overhead tubes that carried money and sales receipts to a main office from different sales counters….

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