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Timeline: 1980s

By | Last Modified: February 16, 2018


  • Kirkwood Mall completes exapnsion, doubling its footprint while adding two new anchors, Target and JCPenney. A Grand Opening celebration of the so-called Kirkwood II is held May 21.
  • Carnegie Library is demolished
  • Basin Electric adds two floors to its headquarters, which only opened about 6 years prior. The $2.3-million expansion adds 44,000 square feet to the building.
  • Former Patterson Hotel is condemned after years of failed attempts to renovate. This also temporarily closes The Cinema Theater housed within.
  • Dakota Office Supply relocated to 1131 E Main Avenue. The building now houses Turitto’s, but its former “office supplies” sign still stands high above.
  • Capitol Lanes opens on December 30. The bowling alley expanded several times before closing in 2004.
  • Arrowhead Plaza completes a $300,000 exterior renovation, extending the public sidewalk and adding an overhang. The decorative “corner towers” were also implemented at this time.
  • La Casa de Hamburguesa opens at 401 E Bismarck Expressway. It closes in 1984. It later houses Nick’s Ristorante and Sergio’s. Today, it’s home to Famous Dave’s.
  • New traffic signals are installed on Mandan;s Main Street at Twin City Drive and 8th Avenue West, along with other street upgrades. The project was approved in 1978.
  • The Woolworth’s store at Kirkwood is converted into a Woolco – the chain’s discount department store division.


  • New $8.4-million State Heritage Center is dedicated in May. Four current and past state governors attended the ceremony. It replaces the museum that previously operated out of the Liberty Memorial Building. Ground was broken in 1978. A $52 million expansion of the Center is completed in 2014.
  • Dan’s Gateway Supervalu is established upon relocating from Kmart (where it was called Century Supervalu).
  • The Navy requests the removal of the F9F Panther aircraft on display at Rosa Young Park, citing safety reasons due to its deteriorating condition. The aircraft had been on display since October 1962.
  • Woolworth’s closes its downtown store on Main Avenue, where it had been located for 55 years.
  • Mandan’s Furniture First is established. The retailed ultimately becomes Furniture Plaza in 2001, at which time it encompasses four buildings housing four distinct sub-stores: Classic Oak, Sleep Center, Leather Collection, and Rooms For You. It closes in 2003.


  • Burlington Northern ceases operations in Bismarck, consolidating into its Mandan depot. The former Bismarck depot is sold to local developer Jim Christianson.
  • Renovation is completed on the Liberty Memorial Building
  • Conlin’s Furniture acquires Furniture City and conslidates inside the historic Webb Brothers building on Main Avenue. Furniture City had occupied the building shortly after Sears relocated to Gateway Mall in 1979. Conlin’s remained here until it, too, relocated to Gateway Mall, in 2004. Today, the building houses Zimmerman’s.
  • City Commission approves renaming Bismarck Avenue to Bismarck Expressway in response to the road’s upgrade from a collector to an arterial pending completion of its four-lane upgrade (April). The new Expressway debuts by the end of the year, with the bridge connecting Mandan completed in 1985. A portion of Centennial Road is also renamed Bismarck Expressway in anticipation for it someday meeting up with the route. The City Commission also designated the frontage road west of Washington leading to Fox Island as Riverroad Drive.
  • Save-Way Superette closes after 26 years. The store re-opens under new ownership in 1990 as Stoner’s.
  • Rod Morast acquires Bismarck’s Red Owls and re-brands them as Rod’s Family Foods. Red Owl regains ownership in 1986.
  • Big Boy/KFC relocates its downtown location at the southeast corner of 6th & Thayer to make room for Q&R’s major expansion project. The restaurant relocates directly across the street under a new new, “Across The Street Restaurant,” which evolves into Burgies in 1988. An independent KFC – the city’s second – also begins construction on South 3rd Street (present site of HuHot).
  • Holiday Plus Warehouse opens in June (now Cash Wise Foods). The store expands by 17,000 square feet just one year later.
  • Q&R Clinic and the affiliated Bismarck Hospital begin an $11.9-million expansion that includes a 6-story tower and closes a block of Thayer Avenue. It is officially occupied on December 20, 1983.


  • Papa’s Pumpkin Patch opens.
  • Fiesta Villa relocates from Mandan into former train depot in Bismarck.
  • FW Woolworth closes its Woolco (originally Woolworth) store at Kirkwood Mall, as the company’s discount division is dissolved nationwide.
  • Bismarck Bowling Center closes after 37 years.
  • The former Cinema Theater on Main Avenue, shuttered with Patterson Hotel’s condemnation, re-opens as the newly renovated Capitol Theater.
  • Taco Johns replaces The Copper Penny restaurant at 320 S 3rd. The building originally housed Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips from 1977-1981.
  • Kirkwood McDonald’s is established next to Target on October 1. It was the city’s second, after 2207 E Main (1971). The dining area was separated into three sections, including a patio area in the mall itself and a children’s area to the rear. It closed in 2003.
  • McDonald’s opens next to Target at Kirkwood. The restaurant closes in 2003.
  • Holiday Warehouse (now Cash Wise Foods) expands by 17,000 square feet.
  • Golden Dragon restaurant renovates and expands into the adjacent building. It opened in 1977 and closes in 2005. Its original building formerly housed the long-time clothier Dahl, along with Weeda’s. Blarney Stone occupied it in 2009.
  • Hansen’s Furniture establishes a second location at 201 E Main Avenue. The building was formerly occupied by Conlin’s Furniture and Carpet World. Today it is Zimmerman’s Clearance Center.
  • Q&R Clinic and the affiliated Bismarck Hospital complete its $11.9-million expansion that includes a 6-story tower and closes a block of Thayer Avenue. It is officially occupied on December 20, 1983. Its former building at 221 N 5th Street becomes the newly combined City/County Building.


  • Pizza Factory replaces local Happy Joe’s franchises, the first of which opened in 1977. The restaurant operates until 1990 before re-opening for another stint from 1991-1992.
  • The state assumes control of Bismarck Junior College, which was previously part of Bismarck Public Schools.
  • The historic Logan Building at 3rd Street and Broadway Avenue is gutted by fire.
  • Conlin’s Furniture sells Carpet World.
  • La Casa de Hamburguesa closes at 401 E Bismarck Expressway. It opened in 1980. It later houses Nick’s Ristorante and Sergio’s. Today, it’s home to Famous Dave’s.
  • City and County offices are combined and relocate into the former Q&R Clinic at 221 N 5th.


  • Daytons replaces former Woolco/Woolworth space at Kirkwood Mall
  • Former Q&R Clinic is converted to house joined City & Burleigh County offices
  • Jade Garden replaces Mr. Steak at 431 S 3rd Street
  • The FCC grants a local license to KBMY-TV – Bismarck’s ABC affiliate, which begins broadcasting in March. The B and M of the call letters represent Bismarck while the Y was requested to match its parent’s other stations (including WDAY and KSFY). In accordance with the agreement, KBMY launches a local news operation, which ceases four years year.
  • Rock’N 50’s Cafe opens at Gateway Mall, replacing State Street Cafe. It is established by the same Fargo-based company who later opens Shades at Kirkwood Mall and Borrowed Bucks Roadhouse.
  • $15.8-million Bismarck Expressway bridge officially opens on July 23. It is one of North Dakota’s longest bridges and concluded the Expressway project that upgraded then-Bismarck Avenue into a four-lane arterial. Planning of the project commenced after a 1968 traffic study concluded that an additional bridge would be needed. The go-ahead was granted in the mid-1970s and construction commenced on October 6, 1981. The project was 80% federally funded.
  • State Street McDonald’s is established next to Kmart. It was the city’s third, after 2207 E Main (1971) and Kirkwood Mall (1983). The building was replaced in the 2000s.
  • Two new movie theaters open: A three-screen at Gateway Mall and a 2-screen Grand Theater on Interstate Loop. Gateway’s Theater expands to 8 screens in 1994. Grand is, today, the city’s largest movie theater after several expansions.
  • A Bismarck Rax Roast Beef Restaurant is established at 434 S 3rd. The building originally housed Village Inn Pizza Parlor. Applebees occupied the building in 1992.


  • White Mart closes at Gateway Mall. It is later replaced with Menards.
  • Mary College is granted university status and begins offering Master level degrees
  • Burleigh County Courthouse is remodeled and expanded (dedicated on September 26th).
  • Red Owl regains ownership of its Bismarck stores, which had been operating independently as Rod’s Family Foods since 1982.
  • A 1% city sales and use tax takes effect in April 1, narrowly approved by citizens on January 14 through a limited home rule charter. The final vote count was 3,713-3,576 – a 137-vote difference. The new tax is chiefly targeted at funding an expanded Civic Center and public library, with the condition that a 20-mill property tax reduction be granted. Citizens uphold the new tax in the November general election.
  • A $1.75 million renovation of the historic Logan Building at 3rd Street and Broadway Avenue is completed. The building was gutted by fire in 1984.
  • Wilhelm Buick opens on the former Fleck Motors site (closed in 2007)
  • Kirkwood Motor Inn (now Ramkota Inn) is foreclosed on


  • Bismarck Junior College becomes Bismarck State College.
  • Dan’s renovates and expands Gateway Supervalu
  • Front Page Tavern closes – twice.
  • Bismarck’s Red Owls complete renovation and re-open under the company’s new Freshmart Foods pilot store concept. Mandan’s Red Owl also closes.
  • Labelle’s showroom re-brands as BEST, who acquired the chain in 1982. The store closes in 1997 following the company’s bankruptcy reorganization efforts.
  • Wheel-A-While closes in July. The popular rolling skating rink opened in 1974.
  • David’s Fine Foods relocates into the Logan Building. It closes the following year.
  • Victor Solheim Elementary opens, named for the former Assistant Superintendent
  • “MaNDan” letter billboard atop Crying Hill is relocated from its south to its present-day location on its northeast facing Interstate 94. The original stone was replaced with enforced concrete taken from roof beams of the former Mandan Pioneer building. The sign has been a fixture since 1929.


  • Town House Motor Inn foreclosed on in March. Kelly Inn Limited of Sioux Falls, who acquired Bismarck’s Sheraton Galleria in 1987, acquires the hotel in May.
  • Kirkwood Motor Inn (now Ramkota) is acquired by Equitable Life Assurance Society in August, begins an affiliation with Radisson, and undergoes renovation.
  • Eagle Statue dedicated at Custer Park (October 1)
  • City Auditorium is renamed the Belle Mehus in honor of the longtime music teacher (May).
  • 30,000-acre Wachter Ranch is foreclosed on
  • David’s Fine Foods closes. It was established in 1979 at 3rd and Bowen and relocated in 1987.
  • Denny’s replaces International Inn (originally Village Inn Pancake House) at 405 S 7th Street. Like its Village Inn predecessor, it was the first Denny’s in North Dakota.


  • Bismarck and Mandan host the Women’s International Bowling Congress Tournament, drawing 44,000 bowlers from around the country
  • KBMY-TV ceases local news production in March after four years. Its broadcast license was jeopardized as a result, due to a stipulation that it produce “a substantial amount of local programming.” Despite this, KBMY-TV continues local broadcasts to this day, albeit without a local newscast.
  • Centennial Elementary opens, named to commemorate the state’s centennial anniversary. It is the city’s last new school building constructed until Horizon Middle School in 2001 and the last new elementary building to open until 2010.
  • Veteran’s Memorial Library undergoes major expansion and renovation
  • Northbrook Mall loses its two largest tenants: Freshmart Foods (Red Owl) and Jerry’s Trustworthy Hardware. The closures deal a crippling blow to Northbrook’s distinction as a popular neighborhood shopping center.

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