Hoeven Marks 125th Anniversary of Statehood at North Dakota Heritage Center Grand Opening

Senator Celebrates Historical Society Director Merle Paaverud's Career

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today marked the 125th anniversary of North Dakota’s statehood at the grand opening of the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck. Since his time as governor of North Dakota, Hoeven has worked to support the $52 million, 97,000-square-foot expansion, which nearly doubled the size of the facility, to help preserve and share the state’s history.

During the celebration of the center’s 20th anniversary in 2001, Hoeven met with five previous governors – William Guy, Arthur Link, Allen Olson, George Sinner and Ed Schafer – to discuss heritage tourism in the state and the future of the center. The following year, Hoeven appointed a commission to study the possible expansion of the center. The first phase of the expansion, which increased archive space by 30,000 square feet, was completed in 2007. In 2009, Hoeven signed into law the bill that authorized the second phase of the expansion and appropriated $40 million in state funding toward the project.

“It is fitting and timely that today, on the 125th anniversary of North Dakota’s statehood, we gather to mark the grand opening of our newly expanded Heritage Center,” Hoeven said. “I'm pleased to have worked with the legislature and signed into law as governor, legislation which authorized and funded‎ this expansion of the Heritage Center. It is a vision we had going back to 2001 and now it is a reality. As our state continues to grow and diversify, it is important that we continue to document our story – where we came from, how we arrived here and how we and our ancestors built the great state of North Dakota. By preserving our heritage, we can help our state’s residents, new and old, better remember the lessons of the past and build our future together.”

During today’s ceremony, Senator Hoeven presented State Historical Society of North Dakota Director Merle Paaverud with a U.S. flag that was flown over the nation’ Capitol in honor of the director’s long career with the North Dakota state government. Paaverud began his career in 1983 as the site supervisor for the Fort Totten State Historical Site, was named director of the state historical society in 2001 and will retire on Nov. 14.

“For more than thirty years, Merle has served as a good steward of our people’s rich history. His contributions to our state and to preserving our heritage have been many, capped by his work to oversee this expansion from start to finish. We deeply appreciate his long and dedicated service, and we wish him well in his retirement,” Hoeven said.