The Other Oldest Standing Structure in North Dakota

We’ve previously posted about Gingras Trading Post, which holds a share of claim to “the oldest standing structure in North Dakota,” dating back to the days of the fur trade, before the homesteading era brought European settlers en masse.

That place, Gingras Trading Post, is reportedly the oldest standing structure in the state *still on its original foundation. This place, Kittson Trading Post, is reportedly older by a smidge, but it was moved to this location in Walhalla at a later date. The inscription on the monument tells the rest of the story.

This warehouse is the oldest building in North Dakota having been built about 1851 by Norman Kittson, agent for the American Fur Company. This building was originally built on the townsite of Walhalla, then called St. Joseph, adjoining Father Belcourt’s chapel. It was moved to this site to better preserve it.

At various times it has served as a warehouse for the American Fur Company, as a residence for the D.B. Spencer family before they moved to the Gingras area where Mrs. Spencer was killed by Indians in August 1854, and as a stable for the Belview Hotel.

Much of the early history of this area was centered around this fur warehouse being the terminal for the trappers and for those in need of supplies furnished by the post. The only other station was the Gingras Post some miles east of here which was operated by Antoine Gingras, Kittson and Joe Rolette who were in the cart transportation business on a route between Fort Garry (Winnipeg) and St. Paul, from about 1851 to 1870.

North Dakota Historical Society

We’re told the location, which may have been conducive to “better preserve” the structure at one time, is now a seldom-visited site, and as the photos show, previous measures taken to create a travel spot have fallen into disuse.

Let’s hope somebody takes action to save North Dakota’s oldest building.

What do you know about Kittson Trading Post? Let us know in the comments.

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright 2021 Sonic Tremor Media

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