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Open house planned for historic courthouse

That stately old courthouse wedged into the northeast corner of the Law Enforcement Center will open its doors to the public for an early peek into the workings of its restoration.

Barb Lang, secretary/ treasurer for the 1883 Courthouse Commission (aka: Project 1883 and 1883 Courthouse Committee), announced the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the 1883 Committee will open the Stutsman County Courthouse to the public, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13. She said there will be representatives from the SHSND and the committee to greet visitors and help interpret rooms inside.

Representatives will include Jamestown’s own 94-year-old history recorder and expert, Mary Faith Young. She was on the original 1883 committee, and within her lifetime here in Jamestown, has met many significant figures prominent in its history as well as family members of military and early settlers who came to this region in the mid-19th century. Her memory would challenge the best computer, and her heart and loyalty match Mother Mary herself. Few could add to the open-house event as much as she will.

She has given many of the human-interest stories that flesh out the sometimes boring statistics so basic in preserving any historic place. Of all the historic structures in Jamestown, the courthouse is at the top of the list among a handful of yet-to-be restored buildings.

The historic Stutsman County courthouse has been undergoing repairs to its heating system for the past several months, and an earlier open house (originally planned for August) was rescheduled for a later date in order to allow for post-repair clean-up.

Art Todd III, Lang’s husband, is one of the original committee members and is a SHSND board member. He was involved in its preservation efforts since day one. He is an historic re-enactor as a Civil War private and major, is a preservationist, and was instrumental in the SHSND’s 1980s assessment of the earth mounds in southwest Jamestown. He and Lang were members of the 20th Infantry at Fort Seward and are involved in the site’s preservation and promotion as a center for military supplies during the Civil War and its aftermath.

Todd retired as president of the 20th, was a state senator, was appointed to the SHSND board, and has served as its past president. He and Lang share homes in Colorado and North Dakota. They divide their time between their two homes where each serves in capacities of historic preservation and education.

Guinn Hinman, manager of the SHSND’s historic sites northern region, Diane Rogness, manager of the southern SHSND sites, along with members of the 1883 Courthouse Commission, Lang, Todd, Young and a number of local and SHSND volunteers will greet visitors during the open house, and help guide visitors through the landmark structure. Hopefully, getting to see inside the building first-hand will help remove any doubts that the Stutsman County Courthouse deserves its right to stand proudly and represent the strength of the state’s forefathers. The public is invited and there will be light refreshments.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.