Some years ago when I was researching some historic Fargo happenings, I ran across an obscure webpage that featured a short blurb about a place called the Fargo Arena. If you know where Island Park Pool is, you’ve probably seen the remains of the Fargo Arena without giving it a moment’s thought.
The strange, seemingly out-of-place structure on the site of the Island Park pool shown above is a remnant of the Fargo Arena.
The structure above was once the entryway to the Fargo Arena, a giant indoor recreation facility which only existed for five years in Fargo. Essentially a massive quonset, Fargo Arena was huge. According to a note written on the back of an early photograph, Fargo Arena was purported to be the largest building in the United States by floor space. It was reportedly dismantled after the flood of 1943 and moved to Hector International Airport for use as an airplane hangar.
Through photos housed at both the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies and the North Dakota State Historical Society (in a dated web presentation), we can follow the life of the place — here’s a photo of the building under construction. Here’s a photo of the building in all its glory, and here’s another angle. Here’s a photo which shows it flooded (1943). Here’s a photo from approximately 1945 which shows the building after the actual arena had been dismantled and removed. Please feel free to correct or add any information you might have in the comments below.
The WPA plaque above says the structure was built in 1939, but NDSU’s Institute for Regional Studies says it was 1938. Where the arena once stood, the Island Park Pool now resides.
If you have any information about the former Fargo Arena, please make a comment below.
Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer originally from Minot, North Dakota, now residing in Fargo.