Created By: North Dakota State University
All that remains of the old DeLendrecie’s store is the name on the side of the building, but it began in 1880 as Chicago Dry Goods House[i]. Onesine Joassin deLendrecie moved to Fargo in 1879 and quickly embarked on beginning a business in 618 Front Street, today’s Main Avenue. An astute businessman DeLendrecie made sure to obtain a full page advertisement in the first issue of the Fargo Forum on November 17th, 1891[ii]. The business was a success. In 1894 deLendrecie bought the lots west of his store, across from the Northern Pacific Depot and built a new two story brick building and advertised it as a “Mammoth Department Store.” The brick structure had the added benefit of being more defensible against fire, which was an attractive quality following the Great Fargo Fire. In 1909 three more floors were added to the building.
The store offered a wide variety of goods. In 1881 the store was known not only as a merchant store, but also as the prime place to buy hats as Mr. deLendrecie was an excellent milliner. The store sold dresses, coats, gloves, and all manners of apparel. The store also had a coffee shop, where customers could have lunch and at one point had a tea room[ii]. The land to the south of the building was where the store’s parking lot was located.
The store was owned and operated by the deLendrecie family until 1955, when it was bought by a New York firm the Mercantile Stores Co. The firm wisely kept the name of the store, as it was a cornerstone and staple of Fargo. In 1972 the store moved to West Acres, the new mall that was accessible by a gravel road at the time, and became an anchor store to the new complex. There the store remained until 1998. The old building on Main Avenue was remolded and renamed Block 6[iii].
[i]NDSU Archives. “Fargo Forum.” Fargo, North Dakota: Its History and Images.
[ii]Halgrimson, Andrea. "As I Recall: DeLendrecies building has a rich history." Inforum, July 17, 2004
[iii] NDSU Archives. “DeLendrecie’s.” Fargo, North Dakota: Its History and Images.
O. J. deLandrecie
Onesine Joassin deLandrecie, whose name spelt “deLendrecie’s” still shines on the 600 block of Fargo’s Main Avenue. When the name change occurred is unclear, but in later documents Onesine Joassin’s last name changed the spelling to an “e” rather than an “a.” O.J. deLendrecie was the original owner of the deLendrecie’s department store, which was once a cornerstone of Fargo. He was born in Quebec, Canada, on December 11th, 1845. His family ancestry is from northern France. During the summer of 1879 he moved to Fargo and on his very first day in town he bought the land at 618 Front Street, or today’s Main Avenue. In October he opened his business. [i]
The first store was a small, wood building called the Chicago Dry Goods store. His brother, Eugene J. deLendrecie, joined him on his business venture. O. J. deLendrecie along with being an astute business man was also a great milliner, or hat maker. In the 1881 Fargo directory he was advertised as having “a fine and tasty selection of hats.” The store sold a wide variety of goods and the business grew quickly. In 1894 O.J. deLendrecie had the customer demand and the means to expand his business. He purchased the lots west of his first store and built a brick building. The brick structure was conveniently more fire resistant, which was an attractive quality following The Great Fire that occurred just the year before. O.J. deLendrecie advertised his new store as the “Mammoth Department Store.”[ii]
In 1914 O.J deLendrecie retired and his brother Eugene deLendrecie, who was vice president of the business took over the store. O.J. deLendrecie moved to California and died ten years later in 1924.
[i]Halgrimson, Andrea. "As I Recall: DeLendrecies building has a rich history." Inforum, July 17, 2004
[ii]NDSU Archives. “deLendrecie’s" https://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Fargo In Flames