Manfred is a near-ghost town just off Highway 52 between Minot and Jamestown. We visited Manfred previously in 2006, and decided to stop again for an overdue visit on our way to north central North Dakota.
Manfred is home to about five residents these days, and several of them are doing a fantastic job at buying up properties and securing/restoring them. The Johnson Hotel was on the brink when we visited in 2006, but has since been repainted. In addition, there was an old school in Manfred which we chose not to photograph last time because it looked as though someone had been living in it. It is now undergoing a thorough cleaning, and the residents of Manfred have plans to restore the portico over the front stairs when they can raise the funds to do so.
We spoke with a few of the residents of Manfred and they told us they are considering various ideas to attract travelers to the town, including the possibility of having a campground nearby. We certainly hope something like that happens, because Manfred is an attraction. Of all the places we’ve visited in North Dakota, we have never been to a place where the residents are more determined to save what remains of their town. We can’t express in words what a fantastic job they are doing.
Piano and electric organ; necessary for any good schoolhouse production.
The gorgeous and historic Vang Lutheran Church.
The Manfred Heritage Museum. No admission charge.
Painted, ground floor windows boarded up, grounds cleaned, and boardwalk installed
An upgrade is in progress on the front of this house.
This house is a good example of how quickly nature can overtake properties left to themselves. Six years ago, the front of this house could be clearly seen through the brush.
This Standard station has been a work in progress for years. It’s lookin’ really good with those vintage gas pumps out in front. You can almost picture a team of three guys coming out to check your oil, wash your windows, and fill it up.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Inhabited as of 4/06
Manfred, ND is in Wells County, about 30 miles S of Rugby, the geographical center of North America. Manfred reportedly had 439 citizens in 1920, but that declined to 70 by 1960 and a few dozen today.
We actually hadn’t planned on stopping in Manfred, but we drove right by it on the way to Silva and Fillmore, and when we saw that hotel from the highway, we immediately decided to go to Manfred on the return trip. It was worth it.
Manfred also has a very impressive old schoolhouse, however someone has butted a trailer home up against the building and virtually swallowed up the entire structure as a living space. Some of the windows were plywood and others had bed sheets hanging in the windows. Therefore, we didn’t feel comfortable photographing the structure.
There’s a very nice Manfred Museum as well, sharing a “city block” with several vacant homes. The red and white building pictured below appears to have gone through a recent makeover. Due to a photo contribution from Mark Johnson, we were able to do a before and after animation on the structure.
The Post Office pictured below also appears to be in very nice condition, and there were several very well-tended modern homes in Manfred.
It also seems that several of the abandoned homes in Manfred have either undergone or are undergoing upgrades, sporting unfinished coats of primer etc…
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