The first major building in Fargo was the Headquarters Hotel constructed by the Northern Pacific Railroad to house guests, government offices, and to serve as the railroad station.
The hotel was situated about 40 feet from Broadway and on the north side of the N.P. railroad tracks across from where the present N.P. depot building sits.
The hotel was completed in the fall of 1872, and formally opened by Mayor Jasper B. Chapin on April 1, 1873. The first manager of the hotel was W. Hubert Smith. The hotel burned down on the morning of September 22, 1874, by a fire that started in the kitchen. After the fire, the Northern Pacific notified the City of Fargo that the responsibility in rebuilding the hotel rested upon the city. The city of Moorhead saw an opening in which they could gain favor with the railroad, and offered to construct a hotel in Moorhead if the company would name that city as the official division point. This threat spurred several Fargo businessmen into action, and the hotel was completely rebuilt in just 90 days. The men who led the venture were Evan S. Tyler and N. K. Hubbard. The new hotel was a three story wood frame building with 75 guest rooms, dining hall, office and railroad depot. The cost was totaled at $45,000. It opened to the public with rates from $.50 to $1.00 a day without meals. The hotel was a social center and meeting place for early Fargo residents. It also was the rendezvous point for Army officers coming and going to their posts on the open frontier. General Custer and General Miles often stopped at the Headquarters Hotel. Also on one occasion President Ulysses S. Grant and General Sherman were registered guests. By 1880, the hotel manager was W. H. Witt, and in the winter of 1881, Joseph Lamont took over management in partnership with Walter Scott Mr. Lamont would later by Walter Scotts interests, and by 1891 was the sole proprietor of the hotel.
Although the hotel survived the Great Fargo fire of 1893, it burned down on June 12, 1897, and was never rebuilt. The fire originated in the servants’ quarters and spread rapidly to the main structure. It is said that the hotel had become something of an eyesore by that time and its destruction was not widely mourned.
The photograph (above) of the Headquarters Hotel shows the B.D. Buford & Co., Plows, along the south side of the N.P. railroad tracks. The tower-like structure in the upper right of the picture is the original Fargo Fire Department Tower with bell built in the spring of 1881. It burned down in the fire of 1893.
The image to the right is one-half of a stereoview photograph (enlarged and cropped). In the foreground of the picture, one can see a bandstand and a park where the N.P. Park used to be. Running diagonally across the bottom of the image is Broadway. Note the wooden sidewalk. Running across the center of the image are the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks.
To the left (west) of the Hotel can be seen a Dining Hall.