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Fargo’s First Theater

The first theater in Fargo was built by John Erickson in 1880.  In 1888 the theater was purchased by Alexander Stern and was located on the second story of the Stern Building.  It burned down in the fire of 1893 but was undoubtedly a rich source of culture for Fargo.

The theater featured actors of which many went on to become prominent in their time such as the famous 19th century Italian actor Salvini who played in “Don Caesar de Bazan” on January 4, 1893.  Other featured performers included the famed Jim Crowe actress Clara Morris, Shakespearean actor Frederick Warde, and other renowned actors such as Joseph Jefferson, Marie Wainwright, William Collier, Frank Daniels, Stuard Robson, Blanche Walsh, Chauncey Olcott, John Drew, Melbourne MacDoweell, Herbert Kelcey, including “Don Caesar de Bazan” which was one of the last that the theater ever featured, running through January of 1893.[1] Popular theater productions of the time included “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as well as Shakespearean Plays.[2]

Valerie Tescher, Digital History 2012


[1] Masonic Library Staff. Fargo Masonic Files. Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, 1979. Print.

[2] Browning, Richard James. Early Fargo Theaters: Record of the professional theatre activity in Fargo, Dakota Territory from 1880-1888. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University, 1979. Print.

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