Our history is deeply rooted in Fargo’s past. The Hotel Donaldson was built in 1893 as one of the first buildings to rise after a devastating fire destroyed much of Fargo’s downtown. Its original owners were the International Order of Oddfellows, a fraternal organization (still active today) that advocates the values of truth, love, friendship, and to do good for humanity, values shared by us today. In the mid 1910’s, the building changed hands and was remodeled, with a floor added to replace the building’s two-story ballroom. The building became the Hotel Donaldson, a “European”-style hotel with shop space on its first floor.
Over the years, the Hotel Donaldson continued to change hands but the name stayed the same. Through the “urban renewal” period of the 60’s and 70’s, businesses abandoned downtown Fargo for greener pastures, leaving behind a rapidly degrading infrastructure and scores of empty buildings and lots. In the late 90’s, interest began to rekindle in the redevelopment of downtown Fargo, and, in 2000, entrepreneur Karen Stoker purchased the Hotel Donaldson. At this point, the building was in severe disrepair and served as a workingman’s hotel, offering rooms at daily and weekly rates.
The renovation was a three-year process of gutting the entire building, replacing all of its interior while retaining many original structural elements. The Hotel Donaldson acknowledges the shared history of region’s culture and signifies the importance of preserving historical buildings, but also embodies modern tastes in hospitality, quality, and social responsibility.
Since opening in August, 2003, the Hotel Donaldson has become a focal point of downtown Fargo. Aside from offering world-class accommodations and cuisine, we are also an enthusiastic supporter of the region’s literary, performing, and visual arts, displaying many works by our region’s finest artists and providing a venue for music, poetry readings, and many other cultural happenings.
As we have flourished, so has downtown Fargo. In the years since the Hotel Donaldson opened, downtown has become a vibrant home for dining, business, boutique shopping, galleries, music, and nightlife. It has become a destination for residents and visitors alike, exemplifying the values that both we and the Fargo-Moorhead region hold dear: hard work, creativity, and an unequaled quality of life.