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.
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.
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