Halgrimson: Fargo-Moorhead motor courts part of pastIn the beginning, they were called auto courts, motor courts, motor inns, motor lodges or tourist cabins.
By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM
In the beginning, they were called auto courts, motor courts, motor inns, motor lodges or tourist cabins. These facilities were made up of separate small dwellings with enough space between them for some privacy and an area alongside, or in front, for a car to park.
From 1900 to 1930, the number of registered automobiles in America soared from 8,000 to 23 million. By 1950, cars were the main mode of travel and people needed places along the highways in which to stay. The auto courts came into being.
I remember the White Auto Court on the southwest corner of what is now University Drive and 13th Avenue South at 1395 13th St. S. A story in The Forum from 1955 says it had 16 units and was owned and operated by Chester Anderson and Mr. and Mrs. A.W. Hanson. It must have been razed in the early 1960s.
As I recall, the individual units were white stucco with grass around them and trees in the yard. At that time, I don’t think 13th Avenue South was paved much beyond 15th or 16th Street. The space is now occupied by an abandoned gas station.
Halliday Cabins in Moorhead was located at 1520 4th Ave. S. A Forum story in 1952 stated that a new 132-by-35-foot building was added to the site, which had 17 cabins. Mrs. Billiette Emerson, who purchased the property from Mrs. Frank Halliday in 1946, was the proprietor of the Halliday.
I remember the neat little clapboard cabins nestled among the trees. They are gone now, but the lovely trees remain. In 2006, the Moorhead City Council approved a resolution authorizing the razing of the Halliday Motel. The city paid $218,250 for acquisition, remediation and demolition. The following year, consultants proposed building 10 townhomes on the property, but the area is still vacant.
While at the Clay County Historical Society, I learned of another auto court in Moorhead. Operated by the parks department, it was south of First Avenue and north of Center Avenue, along the banks of the river. If it were still there, it would be in the front yard of the American Crystal Sugar corporate offices at 101 N. 3rd St.
Called the Moorhead Tourist Camp, the facility had had 14,788 visitors in 3,697 vehicles in 1928 and earned the city $1,994. No figures were given 10 years later, but a news story at that time said the camp had visitors from almost every state – including Hawaii – and many of the Canadian provinces.
But in 1952, the Moorhead City Council ordered the removal of the tourist park. The story says, “In a step towards ‘getting the city out of the housing business,’ the council passed a resolution in forming the Park Board to remove all trailers and the 12 dwellings from the site.”
Sources: Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Institute for Regional Studies at North Dakota State University