The History of Gustafson Hall 

The plans for the future of untenanted hall are still underway 

Ava Stockstad, Reporter

Along Campus Road, there is a picturesque building that appears to be a house. Windows framed with deep oak line the exterior, and if you walk up the old staircase at the entrance, you will be able to look inside at the sparkling chandelier and spiraling staircase. At first glance, you will quickly realize that this charming place is uninhabited and has been for a while. Open doors and empty living rooms reveal the truth of Gustafson Hall and its untenanted spaces. While this building may often be overlooked, it carries compelling stories that span across decades.  

Gustafson Hall was built in 1908 with the purpose of housing the University of North Dakota’s Varsity Bachelor’s Club as well as the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Hope for a growing campus was in sight during this time as construction on several halls and spaces ensued. However, in 1918, the campus was heavily hit by World War I. Just as UND’s Student Army Training Corps was drilled for battle in World War I, the influenza epidemic hit the Grand Forks region. Gustafson Hall was quickly converted into an infirmary, and 27 members of the Student Army Training Corps, even amidst efforts from nurses and volunteers to help fight the disease, died from influenza in the hall. In total, 29 people at the University of North Dakota died during the epidemic, and 166 other deaths occurred within the Grand Forks region.   

Decades later, as Gustafson Hall returned to its original purpose of housing the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Private Dale A. Howes was found deceased in one of Gustafson’s many rooms on April 29th of 1963 due to alcohol poisoning. Howes was 19 years old and was from Fort Ord, California. He had spent his time in Grand Forks catching up with friends and heading out to a party.   

In more recent years, staff have reported ghost stories about Gustafson Hall. Faculty member Lynette Krenelka shared a story with her colleagues about hearing furniture being pushed upstairs. In fact, the situation was so frightening that she immediately left the building. It is unknown whether Gustafson Hall harbors spirits or ghosts, but the stories shared leave many wondering if the hall really is uninhabited.   

While Gustafson Hall does not appear as sorrowful as its past, a deep dive into its previous decades reveals the riveting history between its walls. Today, the hall is shut down, but some hope to see it reestablished – possibly as a space for short-term housing. With the UND student population quickly increasing every year, additional space for student living is always being sought out.  

While the fate of Gustafson Hall is unbeknownst, it still serves as a historic emblem of UND, even with its doors closed. Next time you take a walk along Campus Road, keep your eye out for the archival residence that lies in dormancy just before the railroad tracks.  

 Ava Stockstad is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].