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Heidi Shaffer, Published January 14 2011

A link to Arthur’s history

Back in the day, a dime could buy a ticket to the Saturday night movie at the Arthur (N.D.) Town Hall.

Today, the building, part of West Fargo’s Bonanzaville since 1974, is undergoing a renovation that will help keep Arthur’s history and the hall’s movie past alive.

The building was recently moved off its foundation to make room for Bonanzaville’s new Barnes Pavilion, scheduled to be completed in July or August, said Steve Backsen, executive director at Bonanzaville.

As part of the move, a new foundation will be built and an interior renovation will help restore some of the hall’s past.

Restoring a heavy backdrop curtain that was painted by Arthur native J.A. Burgum is a “big part” of the renovation, said Marie Shields, Arthur community coordinator who also serves on the Bonanzaville Board of Directors.

“That stage curtain was very meaningful,” Shields said.

The town hall was built in the early 1890s for about $1,000. Over the years, the building served many purposes, such as home to Arthur’s graduations, dances, club meetings, theater performances and basketball games.

Today, the building has seats from the old Moorhead Theater, but as a kid Shields remembers sitting on wooden boards placed atop large pails to make benches.

In the summer, the doors were left open to cool the building, but that tended to let in some unwelcome patrons, Shields recalled.

“It would be so hot the doors would be open, and the mosquitoes would come in,” she said.

Shields also remembers the town hall being moved in 1974 through Arthur as part of a four-building convoy on its way to Bonanzaville.

The Hunter (N.D.) Times building, Hunter’s Houston House and the Brass Rail Bar and Hotel from Page, N.D., also made the trip to Bonanzaville that day, Shields said.

When this year’s $20,000 renovation is complete, Shields said she hopes to have some family-friendly musical shows and theater presentations in the building.

Shields began a letter-writing campaign last week in hopes of raising funds for the renovation.

“This is the only building that Arthur has at Bonanzaville,” Shields said. “It’s probably one chance to really hold on to the beginning of Arthur.”

For more information on the fundraising campaign, contact Bonanzaville Executive Director Steve Backsen at (701) 282-2822.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511