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Timeline: 1960s

By | Last Modified: December 27, 2019


  • New governor’s mansion is completed (replaced in 2017)
  • Arrowhead Plaza completes major northward expansion, including a larger Dan’s Supervalu
  • New Hansen Furniture store is completed for $40,000. The retailer remains in the building until closing in 2005.
  • JCPenney renovates the second floor of its store at the northwest corner of 5th and Broadway Avenue. The project converts former warehouse space into selling space and also adds Bismarck’s first escalator.
  • Voters approve a $1,850,000 bond measure to fund a new junior high (Simle), as well as an addition to Bismarck High School and demolishing the adjoining junior high (built in 1912 as the high school).


  • Dakota Zoo opens
  • Former junior high building, which had been built in 1912 to house the high school, is torn down
  • Schafer Hall is completed at Bismarck Junior College
  • The Drumstick Cafe changes ownership, expands and changes formats from fast food into a traditional family restaurant.
  • Fleck House Hotel opens on the former site of St. Vincent’s Nursing Home, on the corner of Thayer Avenue and 2nd Street.
  • Northridge and Riverside Elementary schools complete expansion. Northridge added 13 classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria, gymnasium, multipurpose room, and janitor’s apartment at a cost of $337,043. Riverside added four classrooms and a gymnasium for $157,866.
  • MF Motel at 4524 Memorial Highway in Mandan becomes the Modern Frontier Motel. Its new owners wanted to retain the MF initials in renaming it to continue using signage on the site that reflected its original name. It later becomes the Rivertree Inn prior to closing. It was demolished in or around 2013 to make room for the Memorial Square Shopping Center.
  • Dakota Malting & Brewing Company, best known for its Dakota Beer product, begins production after raising $1 million in capital. The company folds in 1965.


  • Demolition commences in July on the former junior high, referred to as “East Junior High” after the opening of Hughes, which was built as the high school in 1912. It was located immediately south of the present-day high school at the corner of 7th Street and Avenue C. Its demolition clear room for the current high school’s expansion, which completes the following year.
  • Hillside Park Junior High opens September 4th, 1962 with 711 students . The school cost $844,626.92 to build. It is renamed Simle Junior High in 1964 in honor of Bismarck school superintendent T.E. Simle.
  • Holiday Inn opens on Memorial Highway near the Liberty Memorial Bridge (demolished in 2006)
  • Rosa Young Park is dedicated on June 22. In October, a U.S. Navy F9F Panther aircraft is put on display at the park, where it remains until 1981, citing safety reasons due to its deteriorating condition.
  • Burleigh County Armory is constructed adjacent to Bismarck Junior College.


  • Veterans Memorial Library (aka Bismarck Public Library) opens on July 8th, replacing Carnegie Library (opened in 1918). The new public library cost $375,000. It is expanded and renovated in 1988-1989.
  • Northbrook Mall opens with Tempo and Red Owl Grocer anchoring. It is North Dakota’s first fully enclosed shopping center.
  • Bismarck High completes its single-largest expansion to date.
  • First Federal Savings & Loan completed construction of its new headquarters (now American Bank Center)
  • City Commission appoints a citizens civic center committee to deliberate plans for what would become the Bismarck Civic Center, opening in 1969.


  • Hillside Park Junior High is renamed to honor Bismarck school superintendent T.E. Simle, who died the previous November.
  • Tom O’leary Golf Course opens
  • A second JCPenney store opens at the northwest corner of Main & 6th, in a building formerly used by Universal Motors (later McCarney Ford). The location emphasizes auto service, appliances, and hardware merchandise.
  • William Guy Federal Building opens, supplementing the original Federal Building built in 1913 (September)
  • Scotty’s Drive-In opens (September)
  • Grimsrud Elementary opens, named for educator T.S. Grimsrud.


  • Dakota Malting & Brewing Company, best known for its Dakota Beer product, closes after only four years.
  • Former St. George’s Episcopal Church (Bread of Life Church) relocates to Camp Hancock. It is North Dakota’s oldest remaining church.
  • Grant Marsh Bridge officially opens on December 9th, completing Interstate 94 through Bismarck. Roughly 200 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. The bridge is named for Captain Grant Marsh – a frontier steamboat captain known chiefly as captain of the Far West. At the time, much of the Interstate was outside of city limits.


  • Scheels establishes its first Bismarck store upon acquiring Elf Our Own Hardware at 118 N 5th Street in January. The Elf store had been operating since 1955, affiliating with Our Own Hardware – a Minneapolis-based wholesaler formed in 1913 by twelve independent retail hardware dealers. By the time of the Scheels acquisition, Own Own Hardware had grown to an affiliation network consisting of 650 stores, including other Scheels stores.
    One year later, Scheels acquires Arrowhead Plaza Hardware and consolidates its two Bismarck stores into the Arrowhead Plaza location, as Scheels Arrowhead Hardware.
  • Bismarck is hit by its largest and most memorable blizzard, which lasted three days and buried the city (March)
  • Northwestern Bell Telephone adds a second floor to its downtown building at 225 N 5th Street for $598,810. Work on a third floor begins in 1969.
  • MDU announces intentions to relocate its headquarters from Minneapolis to Bismarck.
  • Northridge Elementary adds nine classrooms and a library, which itself was relocated and expanded in 1986, for roughly $190,000.


  • Wachter Junior High opens, named for the Wachter family who donated 10 acres of land for construction of the namesake junior high and Dorothy Moses Elementary.
  • Bismarck Civic Center is approved, and construction begins on June 28th.
  • General Sibley Park opens
  • A new First Presbyterian Church opens on 3rd Street, and its iconic 1885-built church is demolished.
  • MDU discontinues steam heat service on June 1st and installs gas lines to the buildings once utilizing the service.
  • MDU commences construction of its new downtown Bismarck headquarters on Rosser Avenue. The 5-story building is completed in the fall of 1968 for about $1.8 million. MDU relocates to a new campus in 2006. It boasted a public display room, heated walkway, and roof-top patio.


  • MDU completes construction of its new downtown Bismarck headquarters on Rosser Avenue.
  • Department of Transportation Building is completed on the State Capitol Grounds
  • Kirkwood Plaza is announced in September. The planned shopping mall will be developed by the Wachter family for an estimated $4 million and feature three anchors (as originally announced): Woolworth, Montgomery Ward, and Fargo-based Herbst – the last which would ultimately be replaced by Herberger’s. Kirkwood Supervalu would join in the mall’s outlot. The mall officially opens in 1971.
  • L.J. Anderson Building undergoes renovation into its current purpose, shortly after Conrad Publishing Company vacated the building, with office and commercial space occupying the lower levels and apartments above. The building opened in 1911 as a warehouse for International Harvester.
  • Century Mall is announced in October. The proposed 600,000-square foot shopping center was to be constructed on the west side of U.S. Highway 83 near I-94, on or near the present-day site of Gateway Mall. It was to include 3 anchors, one of which White Drug, supporting 50 stores. The mall was to be part of chain of similar malls across eight cities. Despite that tenant agreements are struck and sites secured, none of them appear to ever materialize.


  • Woodhouse Restaurant opens as King’s Food Host
  • Civic Center opens
  • Rita Murphy Elementary opens, named for a former teacher.
  • Northwestern Bell Telephone adds a third floor to its downtown building at 225 N 5th Street for about $100,000. It added the second floor only three years prior, in 1966.
  • Bismarck Municipal Golf Course is renamed after local golf professional Tom O’Leary (June).
  • Bonanza “Sirloin Pit” opens Bismarck location, at 2000 N 12th. At the time, there are Bonazas in 33 states. The restaurant closes in the late 1990s or early 200s, turning into North American Steak Buffet until 2011. The building was demolished shortly after. Today, the site is home to Schlotzsky’s Deli. A second location later opens in Mandan, at 1704 E Main Street, in 1979 to replace Choice Cut Family Steak House. The Mandan restaurant shuttered in 2017.

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