In partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society, HCS manages Moorhead’s famed Comstock House. Built in 1883 by prominent Moorhead lawyer, banker and US Representative Solomon G. Comstock, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is 1 of the 26 historic sites and museums owned by the Minnesota Historical Society. Helping to preserve, interpret and share this important piece of Clay County history is another way in which HCS helps keep our region’s history alive for future generations.
HCS is developing the House as a living laboratory for public history and museum studies majors at area colleges. Starting Memorial Day weekend through October 31, hours for the historic home will be increased. Watch for innovative programming to come in Summer and Fall 2016.
Solomon G. Comstock completed his Victorian home in 1883. The stylish 11-room house designed by the architectural ﬁrm of Kees and Fisk stood as a symbol of his civic and business accomplishments, and was where he and his wife Sarah Ball raised their three children, Ada Louise, Jessie May and George Madison. The architecture of the home – which showcases the popular styles of the time, blending Queen Anne and English designer Charles Locke Eastlake designs – is as important historically as the accomplishments of the Comstock Family.
The Solomon G. Comstock Family
Born and raised in Maine, Comstock earned his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1869. He settled in Moorhead in 1871, marrying Sarah Ball in 1874. Comstock established a successful law partnership in Moorhead and began a long career in politics. Committed to Republican ideals, Comstock served four terms as a state representative, one as state senator, and one term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Comstock was a pioneer in local business and education, helping to drive the growth of Moorhead and surrounding regions. He helped found the First National Bank of Moorhead in 1881, helped to build the Bishop Whipple School, which became Concordia College, and sponsored a bill in the Minnesota legislature that led to the establishment of the Moorhead Normal School (now Minnesota State University Moorhead).
Wife Sarah was an active member of Moorhead society and equally committed to education, as were their children. Sarah secured a donation from Andrew Carnegie to help build the town’s library in 1905-1906. Eldest daughter, Ada Louise, graduated from Smith College (1897), earned a master’s degree at Columbia College (1899) and after serving as the first dean of women at the University of Minnesota and academic dean at Smith College, became the ﬁrst full-time president of Radcliffe College. Middle child Jessie May attended the University of Minnesota and Radcliffe College before becoming a school teacher in Minneapolis. Youngest George Madison graduated from Harvard University, served in World War I and eventually returning to Moorhead to become a businessman in banking, farming and real estate. George and his wife Frances donated the home to the Minnesota Historical Society in 1965.
To learn more about the family and the Comstock House, click here or better yet, come visit!