Ancient Order of United Workmen

Ancient Order of United Workmen building.

The Ancient Order of United Workmen (AOUW).was founded by John Jordan Upchurch and thirteen others in Meadville, Pennsylvania on October 27, 1868. The AOUW was a fraternal benefits society that became quite popular as a means of providing financial protection to working class people at an affordable rate. The AOUW maintained a lodge where members could meet together in a spirit of fraternalism and brotherhood.

By 1887, the AOUW had more than 176,000 members in 3,200 member groups (called lodges) across the country. Prior to July 18, 1895, the lodges in North Dakota were affiliated with those in South Dakota. For the first few years, the Grand Lodge offices were located in the basement of the Red River Valley National Bank, occupying two small rooms and a vault. This office was operated solely by E.J. Moore, Grand Recorder. About 1906, the offices in Fargo were moved to the second floor of the Northern School Supply building at the corner of N.P. Avenue and 8th Street North. The AOUW constructed the building shown to the right in 1911 to serve as their headquarters. It was located at 112 Roberts Street.

Ancient Order of United Workmen building.

In 1916, E.J. Moore was elected Supreme Recorder and the office was moved from Meadville, Pennsylvania to Fargo. Mr. Moore served the AOUW for 44 years. The AOUW moved out of their building in 1927 (see below) and the Interstate Business College took over the building until 1978 when they moved to a different location. At some point, the building at 112 Roberts Street became known as Federal Square.

Pioneer Life building.

The postcard to the upper right shows the AOUW headquarters or "Grand Lodge" building at the corner of 10th Street and 2nd Avenue North. This building was constructed in 1927. Three additional floors and a new wing were added to the building in 1952, as can be seen in the postcard to the right.

On January 1, 1948, the AOUW of North Dakota officially became the Pioneer Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1953 three additional stories we added to the building. In 1991 Pioneer Mutual merged with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. North Dakota State University bought the building, and in October 2007 ground breaking ceremonies for were held. The building was expanded, making it 135,000 square feet and a cost of $15 million though private donations. The building was renamed Barry Hall and the building dedication on October 2, 2009.

Pioneer Mutual Life historical information provided by Marlys Carlson.
Pioneer Mutual Life Story: Opening New Doors to Progress Fargo, N.D. : Pioneer Mutual Life Insurance Co., [1952?].