Downtown Moorhead

Downtown Moorhead

In 1965, downtown Moorhead still existed, as you can see from the postcard shown here — a view from the Center Avenue Bridge looking east.  But the popularity of West Acres Mall in Fargo instigated some developments that were of questionable judgement.  In the postcard shown here, you see dozens of buildings that no longer exist — the bulk of downtown Moorhead.  In an ill-advised urban renewal project, most of downtown Moorhead was razed to make way for the Moorhead Center Mall and the new Moorhead City Hall.  The new development was wholly inadequate to compete with West Acres and quickly declined into an urban ghost town.

Although the Moorhead Center Mall has been going through a mild resurgence over the last few years, there aren’t many who would defend its existence.  One block to the south, Main Avenue has gone through an extensive renovation in an attempt to recapture some of the history and downtown feel that was lost when this area was demolished.   In the postcard below, all the structures on the left side of the street, and a few on the right, are now gone.  The former FM Hotel is the primary remaining landmark.

Today, there are more neighborhoods on the fringe of downtown Moorhead which are suffering from blight and absentee landlords, and a vocal group of local residents are pushing to have the properties demolished.  Let’s hope cooler heads prevail.  Moorhead has already lost enough of their history.


The same scene in 2011 is shown below.


Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

18 thoughts on “Downtown Moorhead

  1. I remember Fargo Moorhead from the early 1950s, when 12th Street in Fargo was the farthest Southern development. Population of Fargo was 35,000 and Moorhead 12,000. In the 1960s and 1970s I stayed at and attended many monthly meetings at the Travelodge Motel. Its far better in Fargo Moorhead today than it was. Out with the old, in with the new….Fargo Moorhead have done a great job.

  2. I always remember the Moorhead Center Mall and only remember the “old” downtown Moorhead that was recently demolished. There isn’t much reason for me to go to downtown Moorhead any longer. It is truly sad that Moorhead began it’s downfall with the addition of the mall and has since died a slow painful death. There are only a handful of original old buildings left in Moorhead and the heart of any city is it’s history no matter the size. Shamefully, Moorhead destroyed it’s heart leaving businesses to go across the river.

  3. In the early 1950’s, along with other MSTC students, I remember being a frequent caller at Leo Kossick’s watering hole on many an evening and wandering across to the Frederick Martin Hotel to listen to ‘Buzz’ Moten at the piano bar. Above Leo’s bar, he operated Moorhead’s only bowling alley. It was disheartening to return to Moorhead to see what happened to the heart of the city when they built the mall in that part of town and destroyed the character of the city I knew.

  4. Ah, Moorhead! (residents will remember that slogan).

    I grew up in Moorhead, child of the 80s. During my time there, downtown was always horrible. I don’t recall the Moorhead Center Mall ever being packed with shoppers. Stores came and went pretty quickly. It’s nice to see Moorhead growing again after stagnant growth for about 25 years. They still have a long way to go to revitalize downtown.

    Love this site, btw!

  5. I remember when Duane’s Pizza use to be on the corner of center avenue where the center mall is we would go there after the bars closed and have pizza before we went home.

  6. As the grandson of Leo Kossick Sr. and son of Leo Kossick Jr., I am saddened by the changes to old downtown Moorhead and especially to the demolition of my grandfather’s and my father’s businesses but I guess time stands still for no one. I hope that I am able to revisit Moorhead and Fargo, where I was born, to rekindle old memories.

  7. I worked at the FM Hotel in the early 70’s. our rooms were $9.75 and $10.75 for a corner suite. You had to to go to the second floor to get to the restrooms. Only 2 elevators. When we had functions at the Top of the Mart it took forever to get people up and down.

  8. I grew up in Fargo and my dad worked in Moorhead as a firefighter. I never spent much time in downtown Moorhead, but when we did it was usually at the mall to buy clothes due to the no sales tax, and it always seemed dead. We did have a boyscouts thing there once but there really wasn’t a good reason to go to downtown Moorhead.

  9. I grew up in Fargo and my dad worked in Moorhead as a firefighter. I rarely had a reason to do to downtown Moorhead but if we were down there it usually was to buy clothes due to the no sales tax on clothes over the river. The Moorhead Center mall was always pretty bare, felt like a ghost town in there haha.

  10. This brings back amazing memories. Both of my parents have passed away but my Dad was the manager of Buffalo River State Park in the early 1970’s. We used to shop at a Costco/Sam’s Club like place in Fargo or Moorehead back in those days and I am racking my brain trying to think of the name of that place. From what I remember we used to have to actually write the prices on the items using an old school wax pencil… Anyone know of the name of the place??

  11. I remember going to a buffet in downtown Moorhead, maybe at the FM Hotel, where a meal was 50 cents during my college days, 1956-58. My roommate worked at Warren’s Cafe where they had the best shrimp! First and best I’v ever eaten! And I spent quite a bit of time at the library.

    1. Hi Marlene. You probably went to the Comstock Hotel Smorgasbord. It was located at the corner of Center Avenue and 8th Street. In the mid 60s kids ate there for a penny a pound (their weight).

  12. Does anyone remember the 3-4 stores that were east of the mall (they still existed after the mall was built)? I want to say one was a shoe store another was a discount store – they had a mini arcade – 3-4 machines – I remember playing a baseball game there with my cousin – if I remember right a pinball like ball would be “pitched” and you swung a “bat” (flipper) and hit it.

    MCM was never a huge hit – I remember getting stuck in the elevator on a weekend – we thought it would be fun to ride it up to the top – but it was shut down. we were in there for 20-30 minutes before someone with a pass opened the door and we ran out…

    Stores did come and go – the only reason to go to MCM was for Sunday shopping and no tax on clothing.

  13. I remember the FM Hotel, 1968. My mother worked there, we lived in Moorhead at the time. I was 11. Mom died and I got shifted off to relatives. Was thinking about all of this these days and how great it was to live there back then. SMH

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