Dakota Datebook: The Von Hoffman House

November 21, 2014
” The Von Hoffman House”


The Von Hoffman House was built in Medora, North Dakota in 1884 for the Baron and Mrs. Von Hoffman.  Athenais von Hoffman had asked her husband to build the home so they would have a place to stay when they visited their daughter Medora, the wife of the Marquis de Mores.  The home is veneered in brick and is not typical prairie construction.

In 1885, James Foley was hired as manager of the Marquis’ holdings in Medora.  He moved into the Von Hoffman house with his family.  Medora gave the house to the Foleys in 1914.  When they moved out in the 1940s, local residents continued to care for the house.

Harold Schafer’s Gold Seal Company purchased the building in 1969.  It became known as the Medora Doll House when Schafer decided a doll museum would be an interesting addition to his tourist enterprise.  He hired a doll expert to purchase dolls.  The museum opened in 1971.  On this date in 1977, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1986, Schafer gave the house to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.  The dolls were removed so it could be restored.  The Medora Doll House once again became known as the Von Hoffman House.  The Foundation turned it into a museum to interpret the early history of Medora.  A descendant of the Foley family donated the dining room set and bedroom set originally used in the home.

Randy Hatzenbuhler, president of the Foundation, said there are two stories that need to be told – one about the Von Hoffmans, who financially supported the Marquis de Mores’ business ventures; the other about the Foleys, who worked for the Marquis and served the community for sixty years.  Hatzenbuhler calls the Von Hoffman House a valuable addition to the historical attractions of Medora. It was dedicated as a museum in June, 2012.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Dakota Datebook, Prairie Public (2014). http://www.prairiepublic.org/radio/

Subject Matter

Art, History

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