Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall of the state Capitol was filled in early January for the public receiving line to greet Gov. Doug Burgum and first lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum as well as North Dakota elected officials. The governor and first lady are at left greeting Bob and Susan Wefald.

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger urged lawmakers Thursday to make what he considers a small but important change in statute to formally recognize a part of the state Capitol by its official name.

Jaeger told member of the House Political Subdivisions Committee that Senate Bill 2334 would place an official designation of Memorial Hall, located on the first floor of the state Capitol, in statute.

Memorial Hall, in the bill that totals eight lines of text, is referred to as “the area on the first floor of the state Capitol from the legislative hall to the brass columns to the east of the double stairway.”

Jaeger said the common reference to the area is the Great Hall, which long predates his time in office and often has been used in older publications.

“This mistaken reference has happened even though, since at least 1932, the historical record is clear,” said Jaeger, who provided packets to committee members containing background information including photocopies of the original floor plans for the existing Capitol. The original building burned to the ground in December 1930 and the existing building was completed in 1934.

Jaeger pointed to how the original floor plans refer to Memorial Hall. He added that the term Great Hall was coined decades ago but no one really knows where it originated.

“I feel very strongly about it,” Jaeger said.

In jest, Rep. Andrew Maragos, R-Minot, suggested a compromise.

“How about if you call it the Great Memorial Hall?” Maragos said.

SB2334 passed the Senate on Feb. 3 by a 45-0 vote.