PO Box 144, 301 Steele Av, Hope, North Dakota 58046

Phone: (701) 945-2394

E-mail: steelecomuseum@gmailcom





One of the finest historical collections of the region is housed in the Steele County Historical Society buildings. Baldwin’s Arcade, the largest of the five, was built in 1882 when the town of Hope was founded, and is now the oldest existing store building in the county. It was in disrepair and condemned in the early 1970’s when the Historical Society acquired it. It was faithfully restored and became one of the first buildings in North Dakota to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. This facility houses the core of a large historical collection, an active weaving studio, meeting room, gift shop, and office. It functions as a community cultural center and is the site of numerous programs such as an arts festival, holiday celebrations, etc. In past years, it has served as a meeting place for such statewide groups as Preservation North Dakota, the State Historical Records Advisory Board, and the Local History Council.



·         Baldwin’s Arcade

·         Cook Car

·         Enger Cabin

·         Mitchell House

·         School House

·         St. Petri Church





Baldwin’s Arcade

Circa 1882


In 1882, the same year the Great Northern Railway completed a branch line as far as Hope, Dakota Territory, Dustin P. Baldwin erected a large general store at the main intersection of the new town and called it “The Grand Arcade.”  Just three years later Baldwin moved on to start his own town, but the building and the name remain at the corner of Steele Avenue & Third Street, Hope, ND. Over the years, Baldwin’s Arcade has housed hardware and furniture dealers, undertakers, a grocery store, and the lodge halls of the Masons and the Odd fellows. Today the building serves as a community cultural center and as the headquarters of the Steele County Historical Society. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.




The Enger Log House

Circa 1889

The log house is the newest addition to the museum’s facilities. Initially built by Norwegian immigrants Fingal and Gjertrud Enger, of Enger township, the 1870’s home, which was literally falling down on its original site, has been carefully reconstructed at the museum and is being used to interpret the early Scandinavian immigrant experience. Fingal Enger was the first white settler, arriving in 1872, in the area that became Steele County in 1883.



Descendants of Fingal Enger.



The Mitchell House

Circa 1882


Frank Mitchell purchased this house in 1977.  J.C. Patterson built the home in 1882.  It stands on the east side of Baldwin’s Arcade.  The house is still original. Heirs of Frank Mitchell donated the Mitchell House to the Steele County Historical Society in 1996.  It will be displayed as a period home and open for public tours.



Edendale School No. 3

Circa 1893


Inside the little red schoolhouse, moved here in 1965 from Edendale Township, is a wooden floor that still bears the axe marks from children chopping wood inside the foyer to heat the room.  Different sized desks await students of all ages.  A sand table, standard in schoolrooms of this era, was the base for students' displays.


A one-room schoolhouse usually taught children from first grade through eighth grade.  The teacher was usually a young female between eighteen and twenty-four years of age. The teacher usually started the day before the students, arriving early to start the fire in the stove so that the building would be warming when the children arrived. In addition she filled the inkwells, swept the floors, filled the water coolers, etc.



The State of North Dakota required five items in a one-room schoolhouse: a picture of George Washington, a picture of Abraham Lincoln, the American flag, a map, and the Ten Commandments. Discipline was usually not a problem for the teacher, because the children usually were punished twice - by the teacher and by the parents


St. Petri Congregation from Pickert, ND

Circa 1893


As the pioneers of our present community moved into our fair land, they were not unmindful, that “man does not live by bread along,” they knew they must have a place to hear the word of God and receive the Sacraments, so they had to have a congregation, Church and Pastor and with the will and courage to do so they set out to organize the St. Petri Evangelical Lutheran Church on April 5, 1893.


The charter members were: George Gilbertson, M. Amundson, K. E. Sund, M. K. Sund, Anton Gilbertson and Peter Rye.




Cook Car


When threshing season graced the North Dakota Plains, workers were needed for various jobs. Workers were needed to operate the steam engine, or tractor, hitched to the threshing machine. In addition, workers were needed to haul the grain from the threshing to the farm granary or the elevator in town.  All these people needed to be fed after a hard day's work. One solution was the cook car, which followed the threshing crew. Usually young women worked in these kitchens on wheels, preparing the large amounts of food consumed by the workers.


The hours were long and the days were hot. The day began at 4 a.m.  Earning a wage of one dollar per day, the women would set out clean towels, soap and water for the men to wash both morning and evening.  They would then set tables, prepare meals, and wait on the men who the men were eating. Some types of foods that were prepared in the cook cars were sourdough pancakes, breads, cookies, pies and doughnuts.  Baking was done on a coal and wood stove.  Breakfast was toast or pancakes, eggs and bacon, or hot cereal.  Other meals were usually comprised of meat, potatoes and various other vegetables.