Story and Photos by Brittany Olafson
A Little About Dale
Dale Powers, a day manager at the HoDo, has been in the bar business since 1997. Prior to getting hired at the HoDo, he worked at Arthur’s, a restaurant by Walker, Minn. When he was offered a job at the HoDo, it was right around the time that Arthur’s was being sold. He thought it would be a great opportunity and joined the HoDo staff in May 2003. Powers helped with the hiring process and the setting up of the bar, only to get
it ready for its grand opening in August.
HoDo History: From River Town to Railroad Town
“Prior to the railroad, it was a river hub,” Powers said. “You could look along the Red River and see where they used to have docks where they loaded stuff on, because the river in fact, goes to Hudson’s Bay.”
Powers says back in the 1700s it was a major fur trapping and trading area. People could access the river easily in order to transport goods and services.
“Years ago when they were building the railroad, there was a fire in downtown Fargo in 1893. This building, along with other stuff was rebuilt in 1894,” Powers said.
Of course the fire happened during the era when wood was still used to line the street’s boardwalks. This only fueled the fire, which continued to spread.
Businesses Move in After the Reconstruction
Powers says that around 15 to 20 years ago, the HoDo building was occupied with other services. The main part of the building, the HoDo Lounge, was once a bridal shop on the corner of 1st Ave. and Broadway. The eastern part of the building, which is now the HoDo Restaurant, used to be a barbershop, and downstairs in the basement of the building was a hair salon. However, the hotel itself has always been a hotel.
Hotel Donaldson Gets a Makeover
Karen Stoker is the sole proprietor of Hotel Donaldson and the HoDo Lounge and Restaurant. Powers says this is a new venture for her, but the designs of the lounge and hotel rooms show that she knew exactly what she wanted.
“She wanted to do something for downtown Fargo, [and] this building was available,” Powers said.
Although the building is old, a lot has been done in renovation projects. The masonry between the original brick of the building has been tuck pointed, meaning it has been mortared.
“The renovation was incredible in this building,” Powers said. “I stood out here in the lounge before it was done, and I swear I could see daylight through all the floors going up, so they really did a lot of renovation.”
The HoDo Gets Dissected
The HoDo is one company with three departments: Hotel Donaldson, the HoDo Lounge, and the HoDo Restaurant, which are all connected in the building on the corner of 1st Ave. and Broadway N Fargo.
Hotel Donaldson is known as one of downtown Fargo’s “specialty hotels.” With its 17 modern hotel suites, it can accommodate guests for a number of different things, such as work-related visits, business meetings or an elegant evening stay amongst downtown Fargo’s chic nature.
“This is an old building, but our rooms are totally modern,” Powers said.
Each room tells its own story, as well. Each room has several pieces of a local or regional artist’s work hanging on the walls. Although these pieces of art are not for sale, their unique differences give each room its own personality as well as bring a feeling of home to its guests.
Above the hotel is a rooftop venue, which has an outdoor hot tub that is open to Hotel Donaldson customers. On nice days, the rooftop bar opens, and guests can sunbathe with cocktails on the patio that overlooks the scenery of downtown.
The HoDo Lounge is a more casual hangout where patrons can enjoy a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. It is the main part of the building, with the entrance located on Broadway. It opens everyday at 11 a.m. and serves lunch all day. The Lounge is also accompanied by a bar, which makes this venue enjoyable for “night owls.”
The HoDo Restaurant is located in the eastern part of the building. It opens at 5 p.m. to guests looking for a classier dining experience. Pieces of artwork for sale to the public can be found on the restaurant walls. The one-of-a-kind, local decorations emphasize the HoDo’s unique atmosphere.
The HoDo Today
Hotel Donaldson and the HoDo Lounge and Restaurant have come from a long line of history. The business prospers in its class and originality that was built upon a woman’s determination.
Whether you enjoy visiting with friends in the lounge, dining in Downtown’s finest or setting up camp for a night in a suite, the HoDo surely is a hidden treasure.
For more information on the history of Fargo, click below:
(Edited by Meredith Wathne, MSUM multimedia journalism major)