Broadway buildings share rich history
Built in 1903, the Hancock building at 109-11 Broadway and the Douglass Block next door at 113 Broadway were built and owned by Fargo architects George and Walter Hancock. They designed half of the buildings during the reconstruction of downtown ...
Built in 1903, the Hancock building at 109-11 Broadway and the Douglass Block next door at 113 Broadway were built and owned by Fargo architects George and Walter Hancock. They designed half of the buildings during the reconstruction of downtown Fargo after the great fire of 1893.
According to "Fargo's Heritage," by Norene A. Roberts, the Hancock Building has beautiful stamped metal spandrels which are ornamented spaces between the exterior curve of an arch and enclosing right angle.
These architectural flourishes and the bracketed metal cornice, which is a molded and projecting horizontal member crowning an architectural composition, were no doubt made at Fargo Cornice & Ornament Co., an early Fargo business owned by George Rusk. Roberts adds that the building was designed in the Classical Revival style and the tall keystones over the windows are typical of the period.
What a lot of Fargo's history those buildings have seen.
In 1904, Dahl and Roen Ready to Wear at 105 Broadway expanded their business into the space at 109 Broadway. The store was owned by Jorgine Roen and Olga Dahl, but by 1909, Roen owned the business alone. It was called J. Roen and Co. and in 1915 she sold the business to E. A. Ricker.
In 1927, the E.A. Ricker department store at 109 Broadway was purchased by B.H. Waterman who was from Menomonie, Wis. He owned a store in Menomonie and another in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
It was a surprise to me to find that Waterman's had been in Fargo before moving to Moorhead in 1934, where the business was located on Center Avenue.
An October 1932 story tells of a new front costing several thousand dollars on what was by then called the Waterman-Ohm department store at 109 Broadway.
The story about the completion of the remodeling says it is largely about renovating the basement for a large dining room lunch room and kitchen. However, the story adds, "Upstairs, the store has continued to operate despite the handicap imposed by the alteration work. An entire new front is being place on the store. This involves a complete new set of show windows, arranged so as to give the same depth for all merchandise placed therein. There is 105 feet of show window space. The lights, powerful and clear will flow from the front and top. Inside the main store, departments have shifted about to make for attractiveness and practicality. The shoe department, formerly in the rear, is now to the left as one enters the store. In the rear of the store will be a 'pin money' shop, a new addition to the departments."
I grew up in Fargo when the downtown was vibrant and busy before the advent of West Acres. My memories of the stores in the Hancock building and Douglass Block are still vivid.
On the second floor of the Hancock building was the New York Hairdressing academy, which had been in residence since about 1933. The third floor was the New York Club, which had rooms to rent.
The street level stores at 109, 111 and 113 Broadway included May's, which sold shoes. I remember when we were kids and we stood on a kind of machine with our new shoes on and an X-ray showed how the shoes fit. Later I remember buying shoes from salesman Vic Erickson, who always found something I liked for my hard to fit 9½ AAAA feet. Except for tennis, shoes were always leather then.
There was Arthur's, a women's clothing store, and Vera Jean Hats. Mandel Furs at 113 Broadway eventually expanded into May's and Arthur's and offered women's clothing and shoes.
These days the properties are by 109 Consign at 109, Swansons Health Products at 111 and Moxie Java at 113.
Recent news of the renovation of these buildings and others downtown makes me happy. I am delighted to see the continued return of a vibrant, busy downtown Fargo.
Reach Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at email@example.com