go to ND gov home page

Former Governors' Mansion - History

Former Governors' Mansion Parlor Looking South, 1903 - 1905

The Former Governors’ Mansion was constructed as a private home by Bismarck contractor Justice O. Grout for Bismarck businessman Asa Fisher and his family in 1884. The house when built was one of the largest in what was then the northern portion of Bismarck.  The Bismarck Daily Tribune reported on August 29, 1884, that the structure "...will be a model building, large and comfortable, as well as elegant."

In 1893 the State Legislature authorized a board, consisting of the governor, attorney general and state auditor, "to purchase or erect a suitable residence for the Chief Executive of the State, and to furnish the same." An appropriation of $6,000 was made for this purpose. On May 3, 1893, the Bismarck Daily Tribune reported that "the commissioners have concluded to purchase the residence of Hon. Asa Fisher on Fourth Street, for an executive mansion. The residence is the best in the state. The commission desired to build a residence, but the meager appropriation would not admit of it." The house was purchased for $5,000, with the remaining $1,000 used to purchase furnishings.

In late May of 1893, Governor Eli Shortridge became the first governor to occupy the house. During the next sixty‑seven years, twenty governors used it as their official residence. The last governor to live here was John E. Davis, who toward the end of his term moved into the newly constructed governors residence on the state capitol grounds.


1:00pm - 5:00pm, Wed. - Sun., May 15th - September 16th.
1:00pm - 5:00pm, Second Friday and Saturday of each month, October - May.
Other times by appointment.

Contact Us:
701-328-2666 shspreservation@nd.gov