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Solomon G. Comstock House

Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
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Comstock House

Comstock House, Moorhead, September 23, 2013. Photograph by Wikimedia Commons user McGhiever. CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Solomon G. Comstock House is a Queen Anne/Eastlake-style Victorian home that was built by one of the city of Moorhead’s first citizens, Solomon G. Comstock, in the years 1882–1883. It is a historic house museum and one of the twenty-six historic sites owned by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Solomon Comstock came to Moorhead with the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1871 as a track layer after his law career in Omaha, Nebraska, and St. Paul stalled. Within ten years of arriving he became the first Clay County Attorney, a Minnesota senator, owner of the Northwest Land Company, and a business associate of James J. Hill.

After two large floods in 1880 and 1881, Comstock decided to move out of the area by the Red River where the family first lived, the Points neighborhood. He planned to build a large house that would shelter his growing family at a safe distance from the flood waters as well as Moorhead’s rough saloon district. A plot in the Highlands addition of Moorhead fit all of these criteria.

Comstock chose a Minneapolis architecture firm, Kees & Fisk, to design the home. They used a combination of Queen Anne and Eastlake styles in the eleven-room structure. The property’s outbuildings included a carriage house and an ice house; the latter was demolished in the late 1950s. To support Fargo-Moorhead business, Comstock hired local contractors to complete the project.

Comstock was hands-on with the construction of the home, picking out the different types of wood that were used throughout the structure. He spared no expense. A clause in the contract with the builders required them to use the “best available materials” or risk replacement at the cost of the contractor.

The Comstocks were prominent Moorhead citizens, and their house hosted many people and community organizations from around Moorhead. Sarah Comstock, Solomon’s wife, was the first president of the Moorhead Public Library Board. Before the completion of the library building in 1906, board members conducted meetings around the Comstock family’s dining room table. The Moorhead Women’s Club, of which Sarah was a founding member, also met at the Comstock House.

The Comstock House stayed in family hands until 1965, when George Comstock and his wife Frances Frazier Comstock donated it to the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS). In 1974 the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Comstock House Historical Society was formed to help restore the home to its 1883 appearance. After six years of fundraising, the house opened for public tours in 1980.

The largest renovation project at the Comstock House began in 1988, when MNHS employee Kendra Dillard crested a furnishing plan. To carry it out, staff hired restorers to replace wallpaper, install new carpeting, and reupholster two chairs. Extensive research into the originals guided the effort; Dillard identified the chairs’ original upholstery and worked with a company in Boston to create and emboss an exact duplicate of the fabric.

In 2004 the City of Moorhead signed a contract with the Minnesota Historical Society to manage the day-to-day operations of the Comstock House. It did so until 2015, when the huse was closed to the public for a year during a lead paint remediation project. After the house reopened in 2016, the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County took over management.

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Comstock House. National Register of Historic Places nomination form, reference number 74001011.

Comstock House collection, 1891–1981
Northwest Minnesota Historical Center, Livingston-Lord Library, Minnesota State University, Moorhead
Description: The Comstock House collection contains information on the history of the House, the Comstock House Historical Society, as well as oral histories with people who knew the Comstock family.

Dillard, Kendra. “Moorhead’s Comstock House: A Story of Restoration.” Minnesota History 56, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 18–33.

Loeffler, Robert. “Comstock House Tour Script.” Comstock House on-site archives, 1980.

–––— . “The Comstock House.” Red River Valley Historian, (Winter 1974–1975): 13–19.

Minnesota Historical Society. History: Comstock House.

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Turning Point

In 1965, George Comstock donates the Solomon G. Comstock House to the Minnesota Historical Society for use as a historic site.



Solomon Comstock arrives in Moorhead, Minnesota.


Comstock is elected to the Minnesota senate. He meets James J. Hill, who hires him to work for the Great Northern Railway platting towns along the railway.


Construction of the Comstock House begins.


Comstock House is finished in January.


Solomon Comstock dies.


Sarah Comstock dies; ownership of the house passes to Jessie Comstock.


Jessie Comstock dies; ownership of the house passes to George Comstock and his wife, Frances Frazier Comstock.


George Comstock donates the Comstock House to the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS).


Comstock House is added the National Register of Historic Places.


The Comstock House opens for tours as a historic house museum.


MNHS assigns Kendra Dillard to the house project to develop a furnishing plan.


Longtime Comstock House site manager Bob Loeffler retires.


The City of Moorhead begins managing the Comstock House.


The Comstock House is closed for a lead remediation project.


The Comstock House reopens; the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County takes over its management.