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Almost 2,400 people visit 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse

The 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse had almost 2,400 visitors in its first season as a state historic site, according to Steve Reidburn.

Reidburn is the site supervisor for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, which owns the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse.

"I'm pretty pleased with the numbers," he said. "We had no advertising to speak of. Jamestown Tourism and the State Historical Society (of North Dakota) would point people in our direction. I think we did well."

The 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse opened to the public over Memorial Day weekend in May and closed after a Halloween event at the end of October.

Reidburn said he had hoped to have some 5,000 people visit the historic courthouse this year, but he didn't really know what to expect for the historic site's first summer of operation.

"I was thinking big," he said,

Reidburn said he had seen visitor numbers for popular historic sites, like the former governor's house in Bismarck, which had about 5,000 visitors in 2016.

"I wanted to be comparatively close to what they had," he said.

The 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse's attendance figures were more than another new historic site's visitor numbers, according to Reidburn. The Lawrence Welk home site near Strasburg had fewer visitors than the Stutsman County Courthouse. Reidburn said the courthouse site had about the same number of visitors as the Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site, which is located about 35 miles south of Fargo.

Reidburn said the courthouse is closed for the season, but anyone wanting a tour can call 252-1170 and leave a message. He said he is more than happy to guide tours through the courthouse, especially for groups.

"I have letters out to all the school in the county," he said. "I've had two people (teachers) take me up on it, one from Medina, one from Louis L'Amour (Elementary School)."

Reidburn said the courthouse hosted the investiture ceremony for Cherie Clark, who was appointed a judge in the Southeast District Court. The courthouse also hosted a Halloween event, with candy given out to trick-or-treaters, and a haunted house set up in the basement.

"We had 210 people come through for Halloween," he said. "We had fun with that."

For 2018 Reidburn said he is looking at creating a new exhibit on Jamestown's founding fathers for the jury room on the second floor of the courthouse.

"We would have little biographies on each person on display in the jury room," he said.

Reidburn is also planning a cowboy poets afternoon in July or August and a wedding will be held in July in the courthouse next year.

"This is what we want, the courthouse being used by the community," he said.

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454
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