A Presidential Library Is Being Built in the Badlands

Construction is underway on Theodore Roosevelt's presidential library
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 27, 2023 3:40 PM CDT
The 26th President Is Getting His Presidential Library
Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library CEO Ed O'Keefe stands near a bronze statue of the 26th president in Mandan, N.D., on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. Construction of the library began in June near Medora, N.D., in the Badlands where Roosevelt hunted and ranched as a young man in the 1880s.   (AP Photo/Jack Dura)

Construction is underway for the Theodore Roosevelt presidential library planned in the Badlands of western North Dakota, where the 26th president hunted and ranched as a young man in the 1880s. The work began June 15 with removing topsoil for the project's cut-fill plan. Builders are beginning construction on the library's east retaining wall, with an initial concrete pour completed Monday, library CEO Ed O'Keefe told the AP on Tuesday.

The project is on a 93-acre site near the venue of the popular Medora Musical and the scenic national park that bears Roosevelt's name. The sale of 90 acres of US Forest Service land for the project was completed last year, costing $81,000 and covered by the Roosevelt family. Congress approved the land sale in 2020. Total construction will cost about $180 million. In 2019, North Dakota's Republican-controlled Legislature approved a $50 million operations endowment for the library, contingent upon its organizers raising $100 million in private donations. They announced that goal was reached in fall 2020.

O'Keefe told the AP the project has "exceeded over $200 million in fundraising and commitments." Fundraising "doesn't really ever end," he said. Oil magnate Harold Hamm, a major player in the state's Bakken oil field, donated $50 million to the project. Construction will continue through the winter, barring severe weather. "We're hardy and resilient," O'Keefe quipped. "The anticipated pride moment" will be the delivery of mass timber and steel in spring 2024, he said. "By next summer you're going to see a very substantial structure on site," O'Keefe said. Library organizers are planning a grand opening of the library for July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of America's founding.

(More Theodore Roosevelt stories.)

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