Minnesota Architecture: Mahnomen’s WPA buildings

Today’s nomination for the Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series takes us to Mahnomen County in Northwest Minnesota.


Mahnomen County Fairgrounds

Comet Bowen sent me a brief note submitting the WPA-era buildings of Mahnomen County for the series, including the county fairgrounds and the city hall. While I couldn’t find any information on the city hall, here’s what the Minnesota Historical Society has to say about the fairgrounds:

Built: 1936

Architect: George H. Carter

First held in Minnesota in the mid-1850s, agricultural fairs provided a gathering spot for the state’s farming communities. The harvest celebrations served as social events, educational forums and business opportunities. Fair exhibits featured modern farming techniques and current agricultural research, while livestock and horticultural displays allowed farmers to compare their products. Amusement areas, including rides, games and sideshows, kept fairgoers entertained. The fairs also provided a forum for fund-raising and political discussion of farming issues.

The Mahnomen County Fairgrounds, built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936, has retained five of its original wood-frame buildings, along with an entrance gate and ticket office of indigenous stone. The largest building and focal point of the fairgrounds is the Livestock Pavilion, a hipped-roof, wood-frame building in three sections connected by covered walkways. All contributing buildings on the grounds exhibit architectural characteristics promoted by the WPA, particularly high-quality craftsmanship.

Thanks to Comet Bowen for the nomination. Have you got a building you’d like to submit to the series? Send a photo or two, along with an explanation of why the building appeals to you, to mcombs@mpr.org.

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