Dakota Datebook

Christmas House

Thursday, December 11, 2008


A home is a sacred place. Home is where your heart is, after all. And for the many immigrants of North Dakota, home is where you hang your heritage, old and new.

The Hoghaug family, from Norway, began to build their new home in 1965. The house would tie together what they had built up in America with what they had come from in Norway. Within a year, it was finished, and on this date in 1966, their home was spotlighted as a unique house among the many residences popping up along the Red River.

Large and lavish, but lovely, the finished product was quite a bit removed from the “shell of a house under construction” the year before. Then, a lonely, “forlorn” Christmas tree glittered away, not foretelling the current delight.

Grand Forks Herald writer Marilyn Hagerty looked into the mix of dreams come true, reporting that the house had a suggestion of country living, with a touch of the rich. All of the rooms were irregularly-shaped. Everything was soft and rosy, and the house was decorated with pillars, a stained glass window above the mantel, a plethora of colors, even a cupid light fixture.

There was a sauna room, a dressing room, a room with eight windows built into the roofline to let in a lot of sunshine for Mrs. Hoghaug. The house had rich décor, a grand piano and an oak dining room set, carved with decorations of Vikings. However, the beds were covered with hand-made quilts, and a hand-carved Norwegian kubbestole, a chair made from a tree stump, stood in a spot of honor by the fireplace.

Even the exterior was marked by their work. Mrs. Hoghaug searched for three years to find two streetlights to place in her yard. She ended up buying them from the city of Sioux Falls, where they were being replaced. She brought them to Grand Forks, had them stripped and refinished in white, then set one up on each end of the yard.
The reporter said it all mixed “the Norwegian ‘Vellkomen'” with the “Grand Forks ‘linger awhile…come back again.'”

However, Dr. Hoghaug, the proud new owner of the house, said that it was merely an incarnation of his and his wife’s dreams-especially his wife’s.
Her friends said, “Mar knew what she wanted.” And, from the glowing review of her house, that’s what she got.

By Sarah Walker

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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