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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published October 31 2010

As I recall: Historic Holes house was an early Fargo fixture

A house built 10 years before North Dakota became a state still stands in north Fargo.

It was erected in a wheat field a mile north of town by pioneer farmer James Holes for himself and his widowed mother. As Fargo grew, the address became 1233 Broadway.

From The Fargo Times of Oct. 11, 1879: “The building is of brick, laid in double walls, with a three-inch air space between, making the wall 15 inches thick. …

“The Woodshed is of brick and so arranged that a team can be driven into the shed and load from or unload into the cellar. The cellar is an immense affair … containing over 2,300 square feet of space.

“One important feature in the construction of the house … is that every room is perfectly ventilated. There are three large chimneys in the house, each of which has a hot air flue, and each room has a ventilating pipe running into the chimney.

“A spacious piazza extends across the entire front of the house and for 15 feet on the south side. … A beautiful continued rail platform staircase at the end of the spacious hall connects the upper and lower floors.

“The door and window sills are of Sauk Rapids granite, very handsomely cut and forming a nice contrast to the cream-colored brick. There were 175,000 bricks used in the foundation and superstructure.

“The whole work was superintended by John Pray … ”

One of the reasons that the cellar was so large was that in those days residents depended on rain water caught and collected in cisterns.

The 14 rooms on the upper floors of the house were furnished with mahogany and walnut woodwork.

James Holes and his wife, Rhoda, had three children – James H., Bernard R. and Marguerite V.

Marguerite was born in the house on July 28, 1893, and lived there until she died on October 31, 1976. She married Charles Finkle on June 16, 1920. He died in 1972.

When I was a little girl Fifth Street North was not paved north of 12th Avenue.

One day I was trying to make my way down the muddy street with my bicycle and got mired behind the Finkle house.

I started crying and pretty soon a woman came out and asked me what was wrong. She took out a hose and washed the mud off of the wheels and off of me as best she could, and I was on my way. I have never forgotten her kindness.

In the front yard, which faced Broadway, Mrs. Finkle’s father had planted many trees and named them for his brothers and sons. They were destroyed in Fargo’s 1957 tornado.

Eventually, Mrs. Finkle sold the land and an unsightly apartment building was put up eliminating the view toward Broadway from the front of the house. The address of the house is now 1230 5th St. N.

The Finkles had no children, and frequent Forum stories related her love for her gardens. The house has had only two other owners, aside from the Holes family.

The first residential telephone installed in Fargo in 1881, was put in James Holes’ home; although the first Dakota Territory telephone, a battery powered phone at the Cass-Cheney bonanza farm at Casselton, was in operation in 1876.

Sources: Forum files, Institute for Regional Studies at NDSU

www.fargo-history.com/utilities/telephone.htm


Readers can reach Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com