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The Von Hoffman House holds significant historical value to Medora as result of its association with three families who played a large role in the development of the community. The house is also important for its architecture and for the local contractor and bricklayer who built it, Peter Book. Book built the house for his wife's family, the Von Hoffmans, in 1884. The house, which was built using brick, doesn't follow a specific architectural style, so its association with Book adds to its significance. It is 1.5-stories tall and features a porch in the front, double rows of brick headers over doors and windows, and original hardware on the doors. The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation owns the house and operates it as a museum. Inside, visitors will see original furnishings of the Foley family, the second family to occupy the house.

The Von Hoffman House was built in 1884 by local contractor Peter Book. It is significant for its connection to three prominent families in Medora's early history.

The Von Hoffman House was built in 1884 by local contractor Peter Book. It is significant for its connection to three prominent families in Medora's early history.

Peter Book built the house for the Baron Von Hoffman and his wife, Athenais. They were the parents of Medora Von Hoffman, who was the wife of French nobleman who founder of Medora, the Marquis de Mores. He founded the town in 1883 and named it in honor of Medora. The Marquis established a meatpacking company to sell cattle meat to eastern markets (little remains of the plant, which Book also built; that site is called Chimney Park). The Baron Von Hoffman, who was a wealthy banker, helped finance the company and served as treasurer. Unfortunately, the company would ultimately fail due primarily to competition and the fact that consumers preferred corn-fed beef to range-fed beef. The Von Hoffmans and the Marquis and Medora left in 1886.

The next family to occupy the house were the Foleys. Exactly when they moved in is unclear but was probably in 1890 after a fire destroyed their previous house. James Foley Sr. managed the de Mores properties from St. Paul to the Pacific coast and the Chateau de Mores, which was built in 1884 and the summer of home of the Marquis and his family (it is unknown whether the de Mores ever stayed in the Chateau after 1886). James Foley Jr. would become a prominent figure in the state, serving in a number of political positions including Secretary of the State Senate and secretary to two governors. He also became a famous poet, writing 13 volumes of his work and becoming the state's poet laureate. In addition, he wrote the state's official song. Medora de Mores transferred ownership of the house to James Foley Sr. in 1914.

In 1863, a local resident opened the house as the Foley Museum, which displayed the belongings of the Foleys as well as other items. Then in 1969, the Gold Seal Company, which was based in Bismarck, bought the home and opened the Medora Doll House. After operating for 40 years, the Doll House closed and the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation acquired and restored the house. The new museum opened to the public in 2012. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Maddox, Dawn. "Von Hoffman House." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. November 21, 1977.

"Medora’s Von Hoffman Dedication June 16." Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. Jun 7, 2012.

"Von Hoffman House." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed August 14, 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

The Historical Marker Database