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A Model Home in Bismarck

By Linda Tancs

The former governors’ mansion in Bismarck, North Dakota, was the largest of its day in the city when it was built in 1884, hailed as a model building. In 1893 it was appropriated for use as the executive mansion. Twenty governors ultimately called the Victorian mansion their home until 1960. Thereafter it served as a mental health clinic (the first one in the nation to use talk therapy as a treatment for mental illness) until purchased by the State Historical Society in 1975. The house opened as a museum in 1984, its exterior being restored to its appearance in 1893. The interior of the house was not restored to reflect a particular time period. Instead, it was designed to present the overall life of the house, with exposed layers of historic wallpaper and paint samples showing the many changes that have taken place over the years.

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