S.G. Roberts Home, 1115 8th St. S.

S.G. Roberts Home, at its pre-1920 location of 202 Roberts St. Courtesy of NDSU Archives, Photo 2007.0078.

The S.G. Roberts house, which was built in 1880, was originally located on Roberts Street between Second and Third Avenues. In the Summer of 1920, the home was relocated to its present location on South Eight Street. The story of how and why it was moved is relayed to us in a 1966 letter from Gilbert Haggart, who lived in the house for many years. “In 1920, street cars past the house (were) continuously pounding and rattling. The property was wanted to be occupied by business. An architect named Andrew O’Shea came and said the government wanted a building about 60 feet by 90 feet and would take a lease.”  A new post office was to be built where the Roberts home was standing and the house had to be moved. “They got two men from Minneapolis whose business was moving houses. They cut the house into two pieces and moved them separately and put them back together.” [1]

Gilbert Haggart also recalled sentimental bits of household information from the home’s early days. “We did not have an electric washing machine until 1920. (Previous to that) the laundry, both washing and ironing, was done in what was the big kitchen room. I can still see Mrs. Roberts or a maid working the plunger with the clothes in a wooden wash tub.” He also discusses the early ice industry in Fargo. “ Our neighbor, Joe Ames…went into the ice business in the days when the ice we used in our boxes was cut in the winter time in first in the Red River, then later in Detroit Lakes. It was shipped by the Northern Pacific in cold winter time and, when it reached Fargo, was packed in sawdust. I remember the days when Joe’s father ran the Fargo/Detroit Ice Company. He had four large covered wagons, each pulled by a large pair of horses who had to have their shoes reset about every month.” [2]

Gilbert Haggart’s letter also provides much information about the home’s utility features before it was moved in 1920. “At the time, the house had no concrete foundation or floor. Where the garage is, is where the wood shed used to be. The extreme west held the privy. There was a narrow walk from the east door all the way to the privy. They did not have to walk through snow and storm to reach it. That was luxury.” The collection of potable rain water was an important concern to these early Fargoans. He even seems to be trying to explain an unusual natural filtration system. “It did have a large brick circular cistern for catching rain water. The ever-present troughs and downspouts were used to carry water from the roof. In those days, the heavy dust and bird manure was not drained off on the lawn when the rain started to pour down. As soon as it was cleaned that way, it could be turned into the cistern and made into nice clean, soft water. We even drank it.” [3]

Zach Jendro, Digital History 2012

[1] G. Haggart (personal correspondence, 28, February 1966)
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

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