North Dakota National Guard History of Fraine Barracks
Fraine Barracks, state headquarters of the North Dakota National Guard, occupies the site of a former Indian boarding school and a brewery. The brewery, which was built (in 1883) by Milwaukee beer interests was located in the area adjacent to the front gate of Fraine Barracks. The brewery was operated until 1889 when prohibition of the sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages was made a part of the state's newly created constitution and North Dakota became a "dry state" upon its admittance to the Union. The abandoned brewery building remained unused except for occasional storage until it was finally demolished in the early 1940's. Some of the materials which were salvaged (from the building) were used in construction of the Edwards House, located at Camp Gilbert C. Grafton, the North Dakota Army National Guard's training camp located near Devils Lake, ND.
In 1907, the Bismarck Indian School, one of approximately thirty non-reservation boarding schools located in the nation, was opened despite the protests of Mandan residents who wanted the school to be located in their nearby city. Department of Interior records (from 1907) indicate the buildings and land (approximately 251 acres) were valued at $50,207.92. Annual enrollment at the school ranged from 50 to 125 students. During its final years of operation, enrollment at the school was restricted to female students. Newspaper articles (from the era) indicate the school's "well-manicured and attractive grounds" were a source of pride and enjoyment for Bismarck area residents.
After the Bismarck Indian School was closed on June 30, 1937, a number of alternate uses for the land and buildings were promoted by several groups of interested citizens and politicians. Among the most formidable options offered was use of the site as a "temporary" Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp. At the same time, then - Brigadier General Heber L. Edwards (ND Adjutant General 1937 - 1962) recognized the site's potential to house the state's National Guard headquarters. Concerns that use of the abandoned Indian School as a temporary CCC Camp could likely evolve into permanent use prompted General Edwards to initiate a long and often persistent letter-writing campaign to the state's congressional delegation and the federal government. (Editor's note - in 1937, flood waters from the Heart River seriously damaged the CCC Camp which was located near the site of the present-day State Industrial School, southwest of Mandan.) Despite the fact the CCC was granted use of the site as a camp, the North Dakota National Guard took possession of the land and buildings in October of 1937 under the terms of a one-year "temporary use" permit from the Department of Interior. After several extensions of the original permit, the persistence of General Edwards and the support of the state's political leaders and Congressional delegation finally paid off. In 1944, the United States government deeded the land and buildings of the former Bismarck Indian School to the state of North Dakota to be used for a military reservation and for defense purposes. On March 10, 1945, the land and buildings (which had a then-estimated value of $179,300.41) were accepted by action of the North Dakota Legislature and the area was officially named Fraine Barracks in honor of the late Brigadier General John H. Fraine, longtime member of the North Dakota National Guard.
Some buildings still remain from the Indian School days; among them are the Adjutant General's Quarters, Fraser Hall (Adjutant General's Office Building), Boyd Hall (Operations and Training Building), four residences, several wood frame and brick storage buildings and a brick building presently being used as a multi-vehicle garage. Over the years, many modern office, warehouse and equipment maintenance buildings have been constructed at Fraine Barracks to keep pace with the growth of the North Dakota Army National Guard.
In 1960, Sorenson Hall was constructed as an addition to Fraser Hall. An underground building to house the state's Emergency Disaster Service and State Radio Agency was finished 1969. In 1979 a new United States Property and Fiscal Office building was completed.
Occasional land sales, condemnations and "trades" have reduced Fraine Barracks' original acreage to approximately 150 acres. Figuring largely in the decrease was a condemnation sale to the Bismarck Park District (in 1954 for city park purposes) of 93 acres of original Indian School land located in the vicinity of the present-day Bismarck Elks Lodge and Pioneer Park. Proceeds of the condemnation sale award were used to assist in the costs of construction of the Burleigh County Armory which was used by Bismarck-based units of the North Dakota National Guard until 1987 when the Raymond J. Bohn Armory, located east of Bismarck, was completed. The former Burleigh County Armory is now used by Bismarck State College as a physical education facility. The other significant land transfer (affecting Fraine Barracks land) also took place in 1954 when the state of North Dakota deeded what was then the Bismarck Junior College (BJC) campus to the Bismarck Board of Education which, at the time, was responsible for the operation of BJC. In return, the state received an equal amount of land located northwest of the BJC campus, however most of this was later condemned and taken during construction of the Interstate 94 highway. In addition to Fraine Barracks, the state still owns some land on the northwest side of Interstate 94 and a small amount of land near the Grant Marsh (Interstate 94) Bridge.
Fraine Barracks stands today as a lasting tribute to the distinguished military career of John H. Fraine and a constant reminder of the far sighted vision of Heber L. Edwards "The Builder Adjutant General"
NDARNG Historical Holding and Archives