History of Grand Forks County Historical Society

History of Grand Forks County Historical Society

The Grand Forks County Historical Society was organized in 1970. From the beginning, it has been affiliated with the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The Society’s goals were embraced by the Grand Forks County Commission, which continues to support the Society with a quarter-mill levy. The Myra Foundation, established in 1941 by pioneer and farmer John E. Myra (from Emerado) as the state’s first private charitable foundation, has also been a continuous and generous supporter. Over the years, many other public-spirited individuals and organizations have contributed funds, historic materials and time.

The Society’s grounds and its first restored building were made possible by the descendants of Thomas D. Campbell. In 1875, Campbell’s father, also named Thomas, and his mother, Almira, homesteaded south of the cluster of buildings going up around a post office that had been erected near the Red River. The senior Campbell built a log cabin on his claim, where in 1882 his son, Thomas D., later known as America’s “wheat king,” was born. In the 1890s the cabin was incorporated into a classic Gothic Revival house. The family donated this house, three acres of land and $12,000 for restoration. It opened in 1971, dedicated to the memory of Almira Campbell and all pioneer women.

Since then, six other museum buildings have been moved to or erected on the grounds. Among them are the original log Post Office, the city’s oldest building; the Myra Museum, constructed in 1975 to house the society’s growing collection; and most recently the Lustron House, a unique steel-fabricated home emblematic of the years immediately after World War II.

Also on the grounds is the Myra Centennial Pavilion, which was built in 1989. This is a beautiful landmark for the community. Reminiscent of the archetypical setting of American outdoor cultural gatherings, it is used for summer band concerts and can be rented for weddings and other events.