Northern School Supply
Renaissance Hall began as the Robb-Lawrence building in downtown Fargo (N.P. Avenue and 8th Street). The Robb-Lawrence Company, were manufacturers’ agents and jobbers of agricultural implements, including wagons, wind mills, trucks, buggies and surreys, pumps, loaders, huskers, shredders, harrows, cultivators, plows, etc. The building was designed by architect William C. Albrant. The building was completed in July, 1903 for approximately $40,000. Also housed in the building was the Hall-Robertson Wholesale Hardware Company. Although Robb-Lawrence went bankrupt in 1905, Hall-Robertson remained until approximately 1912. In 1913 Stone-Ordean-Wells, a wholesale grocery business came in and remained for nine years. Although Northern School Supply Company began occupying the building in 1914, they did not purchase the building until 1920. In addition to Northern School Supply, other occupants of the building included: Sampson Tractor, Chevy Motor Company, Fargo Paper, Fargo Glass and Paint, Swiggum Brokerage, and Dacotah Paper. In 1997, Northern School Supply closed and School Specialty Inc., of Appleton, Wisconsin bought the building. In 2000, School Specialty announced plans to demolish the building. NDSU alumnus, Doug Burgum bought the structure and later in the year adjacent land from the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad.
In March of 2001, the Fargo Renaissance Zone Authority approved a five-year property and tax exception for the building and in December, Doug Burgum, through the Kilbourne Design Group, donated the building to the NDSU Development Foundation. In addition, Burgum donated $1.5 million, with another $5 million coming from the Development Foundation, and the City of Fargo pledged $400K in federal grant funds. The NDSU Development Foundation retained Michael J. Burns Architects Ltd in February 2002. In 2003, the U.S. National Park Service approved the downtown campus for a Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. On September 17, 2004, dedication ceremonies for the building were held.
The building was renamed “Renaissance Hall” in November 2008. The building houses the NDSU Visual Arts department, major components of the Architecture and Landscape Architecture department, and the offices of Tri-College University
“Robb-Lawrence Building, magnificent new building to be erected by the Robb-Lawrence people” Fargo Forum and Daily Republican (1 July 1903): 2.
“Structure narrowly escaped demolition” The Forum (15 Aug. 2004): A-9
“Downtown campus a beacon for NDSU, city” The Forum (15 Aug. 2004): A-1
“NDSU Downtown” The Forum (Supplement) (15 Sept. 2004)