DSU campus becomes Dickinson’s first historic district


The Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission has designated Dickinson State University’s historic campus – the Hill – as the historic Dickinson Normal School district, marking it as the city’s premier historic district. In addition, three DSU buildings – the May, Klinefelter and Stickney Halls – have received plaques identifying them as local landmarks.

When the DSU was founded in 1918, it offered a local alternative to the community of Dickinson and southwestern North Dakota, said Dickinson Museum coordinator and historical curator Robert Fuhrman, explaining that before the university was established on the western outskirts, higher education students had to travel to the eastern part of the state.

“… Even though there have been a few adaptations over time, they still retain much of their original character and it is reminiscent of when Dickinson lobbied for a state normal school here. “Fuhrman told The Dickinson Press.

Although the DSU was approved as a local landmark in January 2009, the Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission formalized it this fall. This site also marks the first local landmark to display plaques at the entrance to every building – May Hall, Stickney Hall, and Klinefelter Hall.

“The historic Dickinson State University campus, with its distinct and architecturally significant buildings, has always been a fundamental part of the surrounding neighborhood and of the town of Dickinson in general,” said Steven Doherty, chair of the science department social security organizations, in a press release.


The entrance sign for Dickinson State University is displayed.  (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

The entrance sign for Dickinson State University is displayed. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)


Stickney Hall, pictured above, along with Klinefelter and Stickney Halls form The Hill on the campus of Dickinson State University.  (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Stickney Hall, pictured above, along with Klinefelter and Stickney Halls form The Hill on the campus of Dickinson State University. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)


May Hall on the Dickinson State University campus is pictured.  (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

May Hall on the Dickinson State University campus is pictured. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

As a historical curator, Fuhrman noted that the management of DSU over the past century shows just how vibrant and strong the campus is still.

“The committee is really delighted, and I am really delighted, personally, with the quality of the reception it has received and the fact that DSU has truly embraced it,” said Fuhrman.

The Local Landmark program was created by the Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission in 2008 to recognize and honor properties that are historically significant to the local Dickinson community.

“We have tried over the past five years to revitalize the Historic Preservation Commission. It was kind of dormant for a while, ”Fuhrman said.

North Dakota State Historical Society – who is responsible for overseeing local historic preservation commissions – has set criteria for commissioners, which has made it difficult for the Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission at times in years past. Some of the requirements include specific backgrounds for commissioners such as architects, historians and / or archaeologists.

But the Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission made a “pretty concerted effort,” noted Fuhrman. One step in moving this initiative forward was to expand the commission to seven members who were unanimously adopted by the Dickinson Town Commission in May.

“It really helped revitalize (and) bring in some people who are interested in historic preservation and who have the time to come together for about an hour each month to discuss and consider strategies on how to educate people. to our history. built environment, ”he said.

The Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission follows a general criterion for designating local monuments as historic sites. Properties must be within the city limits of Dickinson and may or may not be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The structure or site must be at least 50 years old and have some type of relationship to a significant historical event, historic person, or historical epoch in the community, Fuhrman noted.

“For example, the last three we have built are the buildings that make up the new town hall complex. All three date between 1906 and 1915. And this is a time when downtown is really growing; it is increasingly becoming a retail hub and these are some of the most important early developments on First Avenue West, ”he said, adding,“… And of course, these are just very beautiful buildings, they are solid bricks. construction and they are a very good example. I am so delighted that the city has decided to use historic buildings for its new town hall. It’s a great example of what the people of downtown Dickinson do.

“They don’t tear down old buildings to make space and build something new. There are so many of our old buildings that are still around because people keep adapting them and they realize that they have a unique architectural character, they have that early 20th century North Dakota feeling and it continues. with us today because the people here in town care enough to take care of these historic buildings. It’s very encouraging in terms of local and other benchmarks.

Although the Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission has yet to put a residential building on the list, Fuhrman said he hopes those nominations will increase.

“… There are some great neighborhoods right next to the city center that you can walk around on a nice summer or spring day and you have the chance to appreciate these buildings. You look at how the city has developed as you walk around these streets and it’s really cool, and it’s really humbling when you think about it that a lot of our architectural heritage is ‘origin has been maintained all these years. It’s really cool, at least for me, as historic preservation, ”he said with a laugh.

Fuhrman said he hopes more downtown landowners participate in this local monuments program and encourages the community to contact the Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission via dickinsonmuseumcenter.com.

“The process is not difficult. The more buildings marked, the better. I like the idea that people can walk down the street and pass a milestone and say, “Oh, this building has been there since 1907. It’s so cool. “That way it also offers a chance to do a little education,” he added.


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