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Fargo Veterans Hospital

There is a very large red-brick hospital located in North Fargo that may easily be overlooked or taken for granted, even though the hospital buildings feature Georgian Colonial Revival architecture – classical columns, white stone quoins at the corners, and scrolled pediments atop doorways.  Truly, this is classical beauty on display.  The medical complex flies a large red-white-and-blue American flag.

The hospital on Elm Street along the Red River is well-known to North Dakotans because those who served in the U.S. military may get healthcare there. It’s the Fargo Veterans Hospital.

It was on this date in 1929 that dignitaries dedicated the hospital. It was built to provide care for the state’s World War I veterans. The need for the hospital was clearly perceived by governmental leaders. Previously, veterans had to travel to St. Cloud or Fort Snelling in Minnesota; or head west to Sheridan, Wyoming, or Helena, Montana.

Approximately 30,000 North Dakotans had been in World War I, and thousands had been afflicted with chronic conditions or disabilities traceable to the war.  A number of the vets suffered from “festering wounds, diseased lungs, or broken minds.”  Those who had breathed poison gases faced long-term deterioration of their lungs, including tuberculosis.

In 1925, a coterie of Fargo’s prominent business leaders journeyed to Washington, D.C., to lobby the U.S. Veterans Bureau for a the regional veterans hospital.  Approval came later that year, and the federal government purchased 50 acres of farmland just north of the city for $12,500 from Martin Hector, the prominent businessman and civic leader.

Ground-breaking began in 1928, and the 57-bed, $229,000 hospital was completed in time for the 1929 formal dedication ceremony.  General Frank T. Hines, Veterans Bureau Director, gave the main address. WDAY Radio broadcast his speech.

A plaque at the hospital explains its mission: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise: ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan,’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.”  The doctors, nurses, and staff there have been “putting veterans first” since that dedication day long ago in 1929.

Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSU Moorhead History Department, with research by Martin Thorp.

Sources: “Bureau Head Urges Cooperation Among War Vet Branches,” Bismarck Tribune, June 29, 1929, p. 1; “Hospital Program Will Be Broadcast,” Bismarck Tribune, June 28, 1929, p. 8; “The Veterans Hospital,” Moorhead Daily News, June 28, 1929, p. 4.

“Many Budget Items Cut by State Senate,” Bismarck Tribune, January 24, 1925, p. 1.

“McCormick Spoils Sod-Turning Party for New Hospital,” Moorhead Daily News, July 5, 1928, p. 1.

“Legion Seeks N.D. Hospital,” Bismarck Tribune, July 14, 1924, p. 1.

“Veterans Hospital Construction Is Urged,” Bismarck Tribune, November 18, 1927, p. 1.

“Hospital Bid Award,” Bismarck Tribune, June 6, 1928, p. 4.

Martin Hector to U.S.A, Deed, Book of Deeds, Cass County, ND, Document No. 152371, June 21, 1926, p. 227-228.

“Our History, Fargo Veterans Hospital,” on-site display, Fargo, ND, Veterans Hospital.

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