Nils Hansson Lovin
Nils H. Lovin (born Nils Hansson and sometimes spelled “Nels”) was one of Bismarck’s leading local builders from 1893 until his death in 1932, constructing numerous residential, commercial, and government buildings of the era. Lovin also served on various local governing boards, including the city commission and planning commission. Postmortem, his sons Oscar and Carl continued in the contracting business until, at least, the 1950s.
Lovin was born in either Löderup or Ingelstorp, Sweden in 1866 and grew up in Ystad.
At age 21 or 22, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Saint Paul, where he first entered the construction and contracting business. It was there that he met his future wife, (Ingrid) Annie Lindhal, who was serving as a maid in the James Hill House. Annie’s family originally settled in Red Wing, Minnesota upon immigrating from Sweden.
Lovin moved to Bismarck in 1893 upon winning a construction bid. That same year, he married Annie Lindhal.
Until 1901, Nils was partnered with Matt Glineburg and jointly operated under the name “Glineburg & Lovin.” His sons, Carl and Oscar, later joined Nils in the business and continued until at least the 1950s.
His sister and her husband, Mary and Johannes (John) Carlson, joined Nils in Bismarck upon immigrating from Sweden in 1901. They were not involved in the contracting business. John was a dairy farmer.
Among the most noted buildings constructed by Lovin were Saint Mary’s Church, the Wards Building, and ongoing projects at the state penitentiary and Fort Lincoln (now UTTC). For some time, the Lovins held an exclusive contract for all Standard Oil stations in the region (as seen in the picture). A master at decorative crown-molding and wood carving, Lovin often lent his talents to other local builders. In 1999, his daughter-in-law, Carl Lovin’s widow, donated an estimated $85,000 worth of furniture handmade by Nils Loving to the Bismarck Art & Galleries Association.
Lovin also held contracts outside of Bismarck. In addition to the Standard Oil stations, one specific example includes a bank and P.C. Remington drug store in Wilton. He also held the contract for a bridge near Sterling.
During the Great Depression, Lovin maintained his entire workforce even when there was no work to be had, paying with his personal finances.
Lovin died in January 1932 of a cerebral hemorrhage from complications of a stroke that had paralyzed his right side. He was survived by his wife and their two sons.
On a personal note, I am proud to say that Nils Lovin was my Great-Great Grandfather. He is one of the biggest reasons I am so passionate about the city.