Window Restoration at Camp Hancock State Historic Site
The 1881 Bread of Life Church is one of the area’s oldest standing structures and has been part of the Camp Hancock State Historic Site since 1965, when the State Historical Society acquired it and moved it onto the Main Street property in Bismarck for preservation. Today, the church serves as an exhibit space and can be rented out for events. Sadly, most of the church’s stained-glass windows were removed in the 1960s and place in storage. After years of neglect, Historic Sites Supervisor Johnathan Campbell initiated the process of restoring and re-installing the windows in time for Bismarck’s 150th Anniversary celebrations.
The Bismarck Historical Society, who serves as a “friends” group to the State Historic Site, committed to help fund the overall project. A Northern Plains Heritage Foundation grant provided a fundraising goal and ultimately, the group was able to match the 1:1 requirement.
“Nowhere else can you so readily sense the history of this town at its most humble beginnings,” remarked Mike LaLonde, vice president of Bismarck Historical Society at the start of the dedication ceremony. “The Bread of Life Church still manages to embody the spirit of early Bismarck, the hope of past generations that this community would grow and thrive–and so we have.”
The total project cost was $107,040 and the specialized work was done by Gaytee-Palmer, a firm out of Minneapolis. Campbell says that while this project is a boon to the site, there is always more work to be done at Camp Hancock.
In 2022, counters in Sertoma Park recorded nearly 75,000 trail users. In keeping with increased popularity of riverfront recreation, several new amenities appeared along the river’s east bank. The Missouri Valley Heritage Alliance signed on a s a sponsor of the Bismarck Parks and Recreation District’s new rent-a-bike program. The BisParks BCycle ride-share kicked off in August with four pilot locations: Sertoma Park, Pioneer Park, the BSC Aquatic and Wellness Center, and Peace Park near downtown. A touchscreen kiosk at each station allows the public to rent a bike, paying with a credit or debit card or by downloading the BCycle app. It costs $5 for the first hour, and seven cents for each additional minute until the bike is returned to any station. In this inaugural season, bikes were available from 7am to 11pm, April through October. All rental fees go toward sustaining the program, maintaining, and acquiring new equipment, and additional docking stations in the future.
Trail users noticed another new riverfront attraction this summer: the Little Free Art Gallery. The small, post-mounted, trailside gallery is an outgrowth of the NPHF’s efforts to provide cultural programming and expression of the River in the vicinity of the Landing. The NPHF partnered with Bismarck Downtown Artists Cooperative to install it. Modeled after little free libraries, the mini gallery aims to make art more accessible. Anyone can take or leave a piece of artwork. A peek inside reveals a miniature art exhibit, complete with gallery patron figurines. Small paintings, embroidery, and ceramic pieces have all passed through the exhibit space this season, each inspired by the Missouri River.
Music on the Missouri
Music on the Missouri event at Keelboat Park was hosted by the Missouri Valley Heritage Alliance, Northern Plains Heritage Foundation, Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health, and Dakota West Arts Council. Part concern, part recreation fest, and part public input session, the project brought partners together to activate green space and envision what the riverfront could become. Interns with BBPH counted 210 participants in Keelboat Park. According to a survey by BBPH, an estimated 60% utilized park trails to get to the event. A handful even came by water, kayaking to the Port of Bismarck from upriver. Everyone who participated in the survey expressed an interest in seeing this type of event become a regular occurrence along the river, referring to it as “atmospheric” and a “prime location.” With such positive feedback, partners involved in planning the event look ahead to more riverfront programming and events.