The Ford Building was completed in 1915 at a cost of $150,000. Designed in the Chicago School style by John Graham, the 100x200 foot building had showrooms, stock rooms and a garage on the first floor. The second floor contained offices and a shop. The third floor contained the assembly plant. Approximately 75 people were employed here on opening day and that figure grew to about 200 when the building was fully staffed. W.H. Schmelzel was the first manager. The building was conveniently located at 505-511 Broadway next to the Great Northern Railroad tracks which had a spur going into the building. Assembled cars could be loaded onto railroad cars without going outside.
Friday, July 23, 1915, was designated "Ford Day" by the city of Fargo to celebrate the completion of the building. The 55-piece "big Ford band" (H.C. Philip, director) visited Fargo that day and gave a 4pm concert in Island Park. Other festivities included an automobile show at the Fairgrounds and numerous sales by merchants.
The company built Ford automobile at the plant to service the Dakotas, eventually it became a sales and service center. In January 1956, the Ford Company moved their operations to Minneapolis and closed the Fargo building. That same year the building was bought by the F. C. Hayer Company, dealers in household appliances, by 1961, Kaye’s Printing Company also started operating out of the building. The Hayer Company remained in the building until 1988.
In 1999, Forum Communications bought Kaye’s printing, and made them a subsidiary. In 2004, Muchler Bartram Architects bought the building and continued to lease the space to Kaye’s until that business moved out. At that point the building was completely renovated to house retail and office space on the first two floors, and condominiums on the third. The renovation was completed in 2006. The first tenants were Northern Home Furniture, Sterling Company and Highmark Realty.
Fargo and Moorhead City Directory. Fargo, 1881-1927.
Polk’s Fargo and Moorhead City Directories. St. Paul, MN: R.L. Polk and Company
“Tomorrow will be known as Ford Day in city of Fargo”, Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (22 July 1915): 17.
“Ford to close parts depot here; District sales office to remain” Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (4 Oct 1955): 1.
“The Ford restored: Downtown building gets new life as retail-office complex”, The Forum (28 Sept. 2006): A-1.