Forum staff reports, Published August 17 2013
Significant dates in the life of Hotel Donaldson1893: Fargo Odd Fellows Lodge opens. Initially used for dancing and meetings of the fraternal group. The top floor is a large ballroom.
1915: Hotel Donaldson opens. It’s a “working-man’s hotel,” housing mostly blue-collar workers in town during Fargo’s early-century building boom. Hotel is remodeled in 1928. Early 1900s busi-nesses occupying the main floor included Fargo Harness Co., Roen & Dahl millinery and The Fargo Forum and Republican newspaper.
1950s: During the Korean War, the Donaldson had a military contract to house military inductees.
1974: Becomes a permanent-residency apartment complex with 60 rooms, eight of which have private bathrooms. Other residents use communal bathrooms.
Aug. 31, 2000: Hotel Donaldson closes when the lease for longtime proprietor Thomas W. Bell is not renewed. The new owner is unknown. Permanent residents of the hotel were notified a month in advance they would have to leave. At the time, rates were $195 to $250 a month, $75 weekly or $20 daily, and included a furnished room, cable TV, and a cleaning and linen service once a week.
Six months later, the three business tenants facing First Avenue North would also leave or be forced to relocate: the Fargo Dog House, Walton Chiropractic and Grand Barber and Beauty World.
Sept. 5, 2000: More than 300 antique lovers crowd into the hotel on the first day of a multi-day sale of all its furnishings.
October 2000: Architects reveal plans to restore the building to its 1915 appearance. John Barbour of Barbour/LaDouceur Architects LLC, which helped restore the James J. Hill mansion and Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul, is hired.
Barbour is a Fargo native and North Dakota State University graduate. He says the building was bought for $200,000 and that renovations could eclipse $1 million. The main floor would likely be used for retail space and the upper floors could be a hotel or apartments, he said.
February 2001: Karen Stoker (then Karen Burgum) emerges as the pri-mary owner of the new building. She said she didn’t intend to keep her ownership a secret and that the listed ownership of the building had to first be somebody else to qualify it for Renaissance Zone funding. She said she preferred the idea of making the upper floors into a hotel, with retail on the main floor.
Aug. 21, 2003: The revitalized Hotel Donaldson opens to the public. It features 17 suites, an upscale restaurant and a lounge, as well as a rooftop bar.
Source: Forum archives.