Mary Faith Young left this world on this day in 2015. Her legacy of historic preservation in this community remains strong, The 136-year-old Stutsman County Courthouse building she worked so hard to preserve is standing, continuing to be improved and is breathing again.
If she knew what all has happened at the courthouse since her death, I think she’d be satisfied that the 1883 Committee was doing all it could with the resources at hand.
Some of the original committee members are gone. Some remain, and new people have added their voices to its cause. With every dollar donated, every hour spent volunteered, the building has become one of tourism’s destination sites since reopening in 2015.
One of its founding members, Art Todd, has seen numerous changes over the years.
“There were 539 visitors Halloween evening,” he said. “The total for 2019 is more than 2000 at this point, and we still have the Christmas Tree event yet to come. It’s been heart-warming. I know Mary would be very happy."
During the past three years, summer musical events brought in visitors from across the United States as well as foreign countries. In 2017 it began sponsoring a haunted house and started adding musical personalities each month during summers. The State Historical Society of North Dakota , Tourism, the Humanities of North Dakota and donations to the 1883 Committee helped pay for events that are offered free of charge to the public. Even after closing for summer, a number of seasonal events still open the doors for visitors through 2019.
Barb Lang, Art Todd’s wife and secretary of the 1883 Committee, has been meeting with the 1883 Committee since its inception and expressed her delight in one of the newest (safety) additions to the courthouse.
“The lights at the entrance are wonderful “ she said Halloween night as trick-or-treaters ascended the wooden steps. “They are discrete and light up the steps really well. Now if only we could get an elevator to the courtroom, we’d be set."
An elevator is near the top of the list for needed changes, due to the difficulty some have climbing the steps to the courtroom.
Guinn Hinman, former northern sites manager for the SHSND, said installing an elevator was one of her final goals for the courthouse. “I want to see everyone upstairs during our musical events,” she said, “and we need to be able to get wheelchairs up there too. Some of those people knew the courthouse when it was in its prime. They need to be able to return and visit again.”
“Getting people upstairs is especially important during the courthouse holiday showcase,” said Lang. ”Groups have sponsored Christmas trees in every room on the main floor and the courtroom (for December 2019). It will be wonderful to behold. Mary would be thrilled to see the building lit up for the holiday.”
The 1883 Courthouse will be open for public tours on two Sundays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, from 1 to 4 p.m. There will be music, light refreshment and self-guided tours. SHSND’s new Sites Manager Rob Hanna has been working with the committee for the past year to bring new objectives to the courthouse. It looks to be an exciting season and year ahead.
If anyone has an item for this column, please contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402- 1559.