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As I recall: Grace Hudson's legacy to Fargo slowly disappearing

The announcement appeared on July 5, 1931, in a story in the pages of The Forum: "ADVERTISING TO BE AIM OF FIRM, Grace Hudson Heads New Company Opening In Walker Building."

Her name came up recently when a group of us was talking about early North Dakota advertising firms.

I recalled seeing Hudson's name when I researched a story on the 200 block on Broadway in Fargo. Her office in the Walker building was at 202 Broadway. I had a vague recollection of her and decided to find out more.

The first story mentions that she was directing advertising for the following firms: Fargo Bakery, Gate City Building and Loan Association, Monson Luggage and Trunk factory, Harrington and Houghton Hardware company, Shotwell's Women's Apparel Shop, Bon Valet Cleaners, The Parker Hotel company and the Interstate Business College. She also served a number of firms in the immediate northwest.

Born on Nov. 10, 1896, at Grand Meadow, Minn., she grew up at Bowman, N.D., and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1920.

Hudson came to Fargo from Washington, D.C., where she was an account executive with the Kiefer-Kipplinger agency for several years. She received professional training in advertising at Northwestern University, New York University and at the Meyer-Both School of Advertising and Commercial Art in Chicago.

In 1973, Hudson received the YWCA's Women of the Year award in business.

The citation said, "Miss Hudson was a successful businesswoman at a time when women in a man's world were less accepted than today. She manages her own advertising agency."

She was a president of Business and Professional Women, vice president of the North Dakota division of American Association of University Women, president of the Fargo university women association and first vice president and membership chairman of the organization.

Hudson retired in 1972 after 41 years in business. Her last office was on the Roberts Street side of the Gardner Hotel where she moved her agency in 1952. Before that her office had been in the Earle Hotel on the corner of Front Street (now Main Avenue) and Seventh Street South. The Earle was destroyed by fire in December 1951.

Forum women's editor Doris Eastman wrote about Hudson on March 7, 1977, when her book, "Women of North Dakota Hall of Fame," was completed.

In 1980, Hudson donated $20,000 to the Fargo Park District for a garden terrace in Island Park. Files show an architect's drawing of a terrace south of First Avenue South and the statue of a Union soldier.

The illustration presents a plaza with raised planting boxes, wood decks, a reflecting pool and benches surrounded by greenery. The garden was supposed to include a fountain that apparently was never built.

Hudson's life was not particularly dramatic, but it was the life of a woman who not only operated a successful business but was active in the community. It was a life defined by wanting to return something to the community in which she had prospered and about which she cared deeply.

As the gardens were being planned, Hudson said, "The people of Fargo have done so much for me ... I'm happy about everything. I've counted my blessings."

The Grace Hudson Fragrance Gardens were dedicated in October 1980. Hudson died July 30, 1981. By 1985, a flurry of stories indicated that the gardens were no longer maintained.

Today some of the wooden structures remain, but not much else.

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

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