Washington House Hotel

Washington House Hotel.

The Washington House hotel was built on the corner of 4th Street S. and Washington Avenue (later 1st Avenue S.), hence the name. The first owner of the hotel was John McDonnough. He began construction on the hotel in the summer of 1881, and completed in October of the same year. The 75 x 30 foot building was built by Brown & Sons of St. Paul and constructed of bricks by Anderson Brick Company located in southwest Fargo. It opened on May 1, 1882. It was opened when Fargo was known and the “Divorce Capital” of the United States when residency requirement to begin divorce proceedings was ninety days. Many wealthy individuals from other states, particularly eastern states, and even from foreign countries traveled to Fargo to take up residency in order to obtain a divorce. Thus the hotel business was a very prosperous industry in Fargo during the 1880s and 1890s.

When Mr. McDonnough died in November, 1883, his wife was left to operate the hotel. In 1885 she leased it to two men by the names of Thompson and Westland. They operated the hotel until the lease was turned over to Robert O’Brien. William J. Early and Alice B. Early took over the lease in 1894, and bought the hotel two years later. The Earlys installed a combination wood and coal burning steam heating plant in 1895. It was the only hotel in Fargo that had heat during the flood of 1897, since the basements of the other hotels in the city were flooded. It advertised, in 1899, rates of $1 to $1.50 per day with "good stabling" and "free bus to and from all trains."

In 1910, the Earlys sold the hotel to Fred Bartholomew. Mr. Bartholomew in turn sold the hotel to Horace Russell, who in turn passed it on to his daughter, Mrs. Beth Farrar. The W. J. Lane Co. bought the hotel on October 9, 1944. The old hotel was sold to the Pure Oil Company, and they tore the building down in May 1953.