Fargo’s Front Street, 1909

Front Street Fargo, 1909

If you’re fascinated by history, you know postcards are really a simple pleasure. You can tease so many stories out of a few fine details when you look close.

This intersection in Fargo is significant in the history of our state as the place where Fargo literally rose from the ground after the NP Avenue Railroad Bridge was completed in 1872, less than a mile to the east.  It was the first railroad bridge across the Red River at a time when this was still the Dakota Territory. The Northern Pacific stopped at the depot just out of frame on the right and thus, this city block became the first stop in Dakota for the majority of travelers from the east and was frequently the first time many had experienced what they perceived as “the west.”

Moody’s department store would have been just out of frame on the left of the scene below, and there are other interesting landmarks in this postcard, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the postcard.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

I found this card when I was nosing around in a box at an antique store. It shows Front Street in Fargo, a street known today as Main Avenue, circa 1909, with Broadway intersecting in the foreground. As you can see, the card was in pretty bad shape, so I started by doing a quick restoration.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

That’s not perfect, but a little better.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

Dr. Mallarian had his offices right on the corner in the same building as the bank, which was founded in 1878 as the First National Bank. However by the time of this photo in 1909, the bank had changed hands and was known as Commercial Bank of Fargo.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

Signs for Emery & Johnson Cycle Company and H.F. Emery Hardware.

Front Street Fargo, 1909

I count three drug stores on this block, a dentist, an insurance agency, and whatever H.G. Edwards sold.

Front Street Fargo, 1909
Front Street Fargo, 1909

Two interesting stories here… on the left, the old DeLendrecie’s department store.  At the time this photo was taken, it was only two stories (see photo top) but it would later have three more stories added.  DeLendrecies moved from this building to the mall in 1973 and was purchased and turned into a Herberger’s store in 1998, ending a one hundred year run.  The downtown DeLendrecies building has been redeveloped into the Block 6 apartment complex.

On the right, the Fargo Waldorf, a hotel that was ingeniously located directly across the street from the Northern Pacific depot.  Like the DeLendrecies building, the Waldorf is yet to reach its full stature at the time of this photo — it’s four stories, but a fifth would be added later. The hotel was destroyed by fire on December 13th, 1951. Read more about the Waldorf at Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found.

Main Avenue, Fargo

Here’s the block as it looks today, occupied by trendy stores, coffee houses and a pizza joint.  The street is considerably wider, and the former DeLendrecies building at the end of the block is now five stories.  All things considered, it’s a small miracle that almost all of these buildings still stand.

Main Avenue, Fargo

If you have suggestions on historically significant North Dakota places that we should feature here, please feel free to contact us.

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

9 Comments on “Fargo’s Front Street, 1909

  1. I seem to remember going to school with a pretty, short, dark haired girl with the last name DeLendrecie. It would have been in the late ’50s or early ’60s. Hope she’s doing well.
    Thanks for the memories

  2. Visiting Fargo relatives from my home in Mandan, a shopping trip to DeLendrecie’s was always a thrill. Fargo was a big city to us! Bismarck also had a DeLendrecie’s, too, but it was much smaller than the store in Fargo. It’s nice to see the current buildings so colorfully restored!

    • Totally coincidentally, I started to read Louise Erdrich’s “The Beet Queen” two nights ago. One of the characters moves to Fargo to work at DeLendrecies!

  3. What a wonderful article….From “back in the day”, thru now…Well done…..Really enjoyed this…..Thank’s

  4. Was at the deLendrecie building for lunch the other day with my husband. The VIP Room in the lowest level is a very quaint, medium priced, eclectic place to eat. Took a couple of photos inside that turned out well, would post them if I would be allowed. Several businesses are located within the building as well as apartments on the upper floors! Love the woodwork. The building has so much character, it is so fun to see and I also remember shopping there when I was young! The Anthony’s store in downtown Moorhead also had the overhead tubes that carried money and sales receipts to a main office from different sales counters….

  5. An elevated walkway extended south (left of picture) for one block. Below it on the corner was the Crystal Ballroom. Across the street (east) was a Red Owl store.
    Emery-Johnson Sporting Goods was later located above the Crystal Ballroom for many years. It was later sold to Stan Kostka and became Kostka’s Sporting Goods, which moved to the old Emery location on Main Avenue.
    The deLendrecie building became Block 6 when the store moved to West Acres.
    The Waldorf Hotel was later renamed the Earle Hotel, which was its name when it burned down. That night and the following day it was more than 30 below and the building was one big icicle as my father and I watched from in front of the NP Depot across the street.

  6. Just looked at this again. My husband and I owned the 4th and 5th buildings in this picture and restored them to their current state as shown in your last picture. Loved seeing the earlier pictures!

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