RYDER - George Officer remembers the day he rescued the marble desk from the Fredeen Hotel fire in Ryder in 1947.
"When the hotel burned I came from the back and I said, 'We've got to get this out, and it's heavy. It took four or five of us to get it out," said Officer, who was on the fire department at the time.
And they saved it.
George Officer stands by a marble desk in the original building of the Ryder Historical Museum. Officer rescued the desk from a fire that destroyed the Fredeen Hotel in Ryder in 1947.
Later the desk was sold at an auction and Officer bought it.
"But I stored it for years and years, and finally put it in here. This is really a landmark from 1907," said Officer, 92, who now lives in Minot and was conducting tours in the original building of the Ryder Historical Museum on a recent Sunday afternoon.
The marble desk was made in 1907 and has the names of various local businesses enscribed in it.
"They had a light over each one," he said, referring to the four sections in the desk. "The salesmen would come in and could do their work." The hotel was considered one of the most famous hotels in that part of the state.
That's now history and the marble desk is one of the many items in the Ryder Historical Museum on Main Street.
Operated by the Ryder Historical Society, the museum opened in 1978 with one main building. The historical society came about as a result of Ryder's participation, led by Phyllis Mueller, in the State Community Betterment Program
The collections were expanded into a nearby metal building that was constructed in the early 1990s.
Now an addition to the metal building, built by Ryder contractor Byron Larson, will double the size of that building.
"This (original metal building) is 52 feet long and we doubled it," Officer said, referring to the now 104-foot structure.
The exterior of the new addition is finished but the interior still needs some work. The new portion is expected to be ready by next summer.
Items from many area churches currently housed in a church museum a few blocks from the Main Street museum complex, will be moved to the new addition and the church building will be demolished.
The museum receives Ward County mill levy funding designated for it. That money, along with donations and memorials are paying for the new addition.
A building constructed in 2003 on the south side of the original museum building has the original twin cells from the Ryder Jail.
This year, the museum board decided to open the museum buildings on Sunday afternoons this summer from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. through Labor Day. Otherwise, the museum was open only for special occasions or by appointment, although there are names on the door that visitors can call to have it opened.
Museum board members - David Kraft, president; Larry Cunningham, vice president; Faye Karna, secretary-treasurer/archivist; George Officer, Derald Larson, John Warner and Doug Wurtz - are taking turns running the museum on Sunday afternoons. One of the past board members, Lorraine Nelson, who has put in many hours working with the museum artifacts, continues to contribute to the museum.
The museum focuses on the Ryder story but also tells the story of North Dakota, going back to the days when the area was settled, and to the present day. The City of Ryder was established in 1906.
On this Sunday afternoon, the Peterson family reunion was being held in Ryder and various people attending the reunion also were visiting the museum.
Chaskee and Piper Schmidt, of St. Anthony, and Kiera Peterson, of Bismarck, in Ryder for the family reunion, played school in the second floor schoolroom of the original museum. The girls' grandpa Bruce Peterson, of Ryder, nearby watching them, said a number of items in the schoolroom were from the country school that once operated near his place north of Ryder.
"This is the dental room and barbershop room," Officer said, going to another room of the original building's second floor. Information on the dental chair, used by late Ryder dentist W.M. Hubler, said the chair was patented in 1886.
The original museum building first was a hotel, built in the early 1900s, Officer said. It housed other businesses over the years and was last used as a cafe.
The second floor includes a pioneer kitchen, bedroom, dining room and a clothing room.
The main floor of the original building includes a store and numerous other types of items and a tool room, with items from the Ryder Creamery and other items.
Officer pointed out skid marks in the floor of the original museum building a reminder of when a driver crashed into the museum and then drove out.
The next door museum building has clothing displays, a section honoring the military, a doll collection, musical instruments and memorabilia from the Ryder School and North Shore School.
Among the many items is an organ in a section for musical instruments. The organ was bought at the World's Fair, first transported to Minnesota by train and then by horse and wagon to North Dakota.
The museum recently acquired a freight cart for cream cans and large freight originally used at the Ryder Depot. It will also be adding an original blacksmith forge and tools, the original water tank and other items used by local firefighters and the orginal Queen City telephone switchboard.
The museum will be open Sunday afternoons through Labor Day. It will also be open Saturday, July 14, from 1 to 6 p.m., prior to the annual Western Edge Bullriding being held that evening. Other activities also are being planned in Ryder that day.
At other times, to visit the museum call David Kraft at 758-2415, Faye Karna at 758-2527 or Larry and Shirley Cunningham at 758-2460.
Ryder is 38 miles southwest of Minot and located along N.D. Highway 28 in southwest Ward County.