By Will & Laura Gardner, Trademark Realty
Take a walk downtown Mandan sometime and you will notice the many architecturally appealing homes. These homes, some of which are part of the Heritage Homes collection (look for the sign in the front yard), have impressive character and unique design. But, the stories behind them are equally enchanting!
Take, for example, the Dunlap-Harris home, a colossal Queen Anne style home situated on the lot at 201 7th Ave NW in Mandan. According to the Mandan Historical Society website, the current home at this site was built in 1904 and was purchased by Stuart Dunlap, a conductor for the Northern Pacific Railway. Originally built with a rectangular porch, Dunlap later installed a sweeping rounded corner porch after seeing a similar one at the 1904 World’s Fair. In 1923 Hoy and Cora Walton Russell, founders of Cloverdale Creamery and Produce Company (now Cloverdale Foods), lived in this home. Mary Broderick-Harris purchased the home in 1988. The house was put on the National Registry in 1955.
Another example of a prominent Heritage Home is the current Weigel Funeral Home. It was built in 1899 by Hiram R. Lyon, a president of First National Bank, founder of the Mandan Mercantile Company, and an investor in the Mandan Roller Mill and the ND Milling Association. He also established a milling company, an electric company, a telephone company, and a grocery in Mandan. According to the Mandan Historical Society website, the home is one of the largest Greek Revival homes in North Dakota, carefully designed after a Greek temple and built on a foundation of about 2-1/2 feet of field rock, with tongue-and-groove subsiding in a diagonal pattern on the outside walls to strengthen the structure. The Lyons’ didn’t live there for long before it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. George Bingenheimer, who opened the first drug store in Mandan, built the Mandan Library and Mandan Hospital, and served as county treasurer and sheriff. After several different owners throughout the years, the building was then updated in the 1980’s by Tom and Kathy Weigel, who took care to copy archeologists’ reports of the home’s original design of the columns, balcony rail, trim pieces, and “port-cochere” or carriage driveway.
Another home, the Love Home, was built in 1909. Chalmer and Bertha Love moved to Mandan in 1911 from Iowa when he became Superintendent of the Mandan Public School System. Under his direction the school became accredited as a first class school. He also introduced physical education and music into Mandan schools and led the Mandan Municipal Band. Chalmer and Bertha moved to a dairy farm north of Mandan in 1928. After several different owners, the Scarborough family purchased the home in 1993 and undertook renovations to restore the original beauty and distinction.
Heritage Homes is a cooperative undertaking of the Mandan Historical Society, the City of Mandan, and the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation provided funding through a grant, which enabled the Mandan Historical Society to research the history of homes and homeowners with ties to transportation in Mandan, primarily historical involvement with the railroad.
The North Dakota Railroad Museum in north Mandan, and Fort Lincoln State Park just south of Mandan are both important tourist destinations in Mandan. The Heritage Homes Walking Tour was created to provide a destination downtown for these tourists to learn more about the history of the city. The “Heritage Homes” distinction also recognizes those who have invested in restoration and preservation of Mandan’s heritage.
The history behind the Heritage Homes can be found at mandanhistory.org/heritage homes, the website of the Mandan Historical Society. Since the purpose of Heritage Homes was to provide a walking tour, the best way to enjoy the full experience is to download the route map from the historical society’s website and take the walking tour and read the signs in front of each of the 14 Heritage Homes. The grant funds received from the NDDOT have been spent, and the historical society has put the development of the walking tour on hold until more funding is received to continue the project. According to Kathye Spilman at the historical society, more prominent Mandan homes may be added if/when funding becomes available.