Belle Mehus Celebrates Birthday with Open House - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Belle Mehus Celebrates Birthday with Open House

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A major Bismarck landmark is celebrating it's 100 birthday this year.

Stepping inside the Belle Mehus is like stepping back in time, the brass railings, red velvet seats and intricately designed plaster leave a lasting first impression, no matter how long ago it was.

"I entered it in 1959, I was 18 years old and it was the state dress review. I had sewed a jacket and a dress and I had to model it here," says open house visitor, Patty Collan.

Countless memories have been made in the historical landmark since it opened a century ago. This is why the city of Bismarck kicked off it's capital campaign with an open house at the Belle.

"I think more than it's just a really important piece of downtown, just to kind of preserve the historic pieces of downtown, one of the oldest auditoriums that we've come across," says Amanda Bakkedahl, Bismarck Civic Center.

The Belle was built in 1914 and renovated in 1988. The auditorium has entertained multiple presidents and even served as a home for the state legislature when the Capitol building burnt down in 1930.

"It really has a really big depth of history, and I think a lot of people who have lived here a long time like to see it keep going and keep thriving," says Bakkendahl.

The Belle is now home for many local performing artists, including the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony.

The capital campaign will last throughout 2014 and Bakkedahl says she is hopes to raise half a million dollars to use for maintenance costs.

"I just want to emphasize to all the citizens , this is your place, this is owned by the City of Bismarck, so this is your house, and it's really important that we keep it up," says Mayor Warford.

In the midst of all the new construction going on downtown, the funds will help the Belle maintain it's original charm.
 
"It's a beautiful building on the inside and we enjoy coming to the symphonies down here and to listen to all of that,  it's really a marvelous building and I'm glad it's still here," says open house visitor, Ernest Vollan.

Upcoming fundraising events include a black tie gala, special guest performers, a movie night and a red carpet event.

There are also multiple levels of sponsorship if you're looking to donate. For more information you can visit BismarckCivicCenter.com.

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