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Volunteers set a building’s foundation to rights

Posted 6/30/15 (Tue)

Volunteers set a building’s foundation to rights

By Cecile Krimm
There wasn’t a chance Danny Hansen would not be involved in a project to restore the A. Ingwalson Mercantile building at Pioneer Village.
“I take care of the museum and I thought it was pretty important that I should be part of this because it had Paul’s name on it,” Hansen said. 
Paul Ingwalson, the son of Crosby pioneer Andy Ingwalson, is Hansen’s stepdad.
“It just made sense for me to do it for him and for his family,” said Hansen.
Likewise, it was natural for longtime nurses Jean Nygaard, Deb Melby and Diane (Thomte) Clinton to get involved in the rehabilitation of the Pioneer Village medical office.
Ingwalson’s impact
Though the structure bears the Ingwalson name in recognition of Andy’s early success with a chain of 12 stores in  northwestern North Dakota and Northeastern Montana, the building at Pioneer Village was built in the early 1900s as the West Writing Rock Lutheran Church.
It was one of the first buildings moved into the village and set up with support from Paul Ingwalson and the Ekness family. Recently, the foundation had gained such a tilt, shelves holding antiques were leaning nearly a foot from the wall.
“It was ready to tip over,” Hansen said.
Though Paul, who passed away earlier this year, was nearly blind and had trouble walking, the project “was something he realized he needed to be a part of,” said Hansen.
Hansen’s mother, Ardel, brought Paul to the worksite regularly.
“He’d stay in the car,” said Hansen, relying on Ardel to relay back to him all that was being done to preserve the building and Andy’s legacy. 
Andy’s mark on the town of Crosby is still very visible today, 105 years after his arrival in 1910. He built the imposing brick structure that today houses Divide-Burke Abstract. The building originally bore the Ingwalson name and for decades the building housed the J.C. Penney Co.
Later, Andy built Ingwalson Motors, a half block east of his former store, to house a Ford dealership.
Andy also served two terms as Crosby’s mayor and was active in Kiwanis, Scouting and the Moose Lodge. He was a force behind drives to raise money for a new hospital in Crosby, to restore the cemetery, and also, to raise money for war bonds.
At a 1959 tribute dinner he was dubbed “Mr. Crosby.” 
He lived to the age of 97.
Other building improvements this year
Next door to the Ingwalson Mercantile, Nygaard and helpers are working to bring order to the building bearing the names of three early medical professionals who served Crosby. 
The building has been closed to the public in recent years, becoming a catch-all storage area.
Nygaard said years ago -- probably 20 years ago at least -- they used to do blood pressure checks in the building during the threshing show and that’s a practice that will resume this year.
The trio of nurses are sorting through the medical tools, hospital furnishings, pharmacy supplies and a plethora of dental office paraphernalia to pull together what they hope will be a good overview of several of the area’s early medical and dental offices.
“That’s what we’d like to do with each building,” said Hansen, but not everyone is able to provide the physical labor to bring projects to fruition. 
It is the labor, more than money, he said, that often holds projects back.
Nygaard said it’s been interesting to see what’s in the building.
“There were still some sterile gloves that were in there. They just disintegrated when we picked them up,” she said. And for some reason, the building accummulated a lot of bed pans.
Other items will be displayed for the first time ever this year, like a book Clinton found at the Thomte farm, containing many of the early details of the organization of the Ambrose Hospital.
“There’s all kind of familiar Ambrose names in there,” Nygaard said, from almost 100 years ago.
Work bees will continue in the weeks leading up to this year’s threshing show, July 17, 18 and 19, with Thursday evenings specifically set aside as a time when people are welcome to come out and help with various projects.