The buildings at Gingras State Historic Site are the oldest standing building structures in North Dakota. They have been restored to their original appearance by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
The restoration project was partially funded by a National Park Service historic preservation grant. Historic and archeological research was conducted by Nick G. Franke of the State Historical Society of North Dakota and Nancy Woolworth of the Minnesota Historical Society. Foss, Englestad, and Foss of Fargo served as architects, and Grant Braaten of Walhalla was the general contractor.
HISTORY OF THE BUILDINGS
Metis fur trader Antoine Gingras constructed the buildings at this site in the 1840s as part of his chain of trading posts located in the United States and Canada. This post at St. Joseph served as his home and base of operations.
Both buildings are of oak log construction with dovetailed and pegged joints.
Records indicate that this building was constructed in 1844. This was Gingras’s first building, and was used as both a trading and dwelling place until the house was constructed.
The Gingras trading post has two connecting rooms, a main room and an addition. The walls are hewn oak logs joined by dovetail corner joints - joints cut at angles so the ends of the logs fit together tightly. Access to the loft was via a ladder in the addition.
Around the turn of the century the trading post building was converted into a barn. The original entrance and windows were closed off, and the building was sided. New barn doors were cut into the northwest and southeast walls, and stalls and feed boxes were built for the interior.