Schafer, Hatzenbuhler: A Thanksgiving Like None Other

Every organization and community faced the pandemic challenges of 2020; few can feel as fortunate as the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF). Thanksgiving for Medora and TRMF have a historic dimension this year.

First, there is the remarkable announcement from the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation that they have achieved their first milestone goal of securing $100 million in private commitments to build the Library near Medora. Congratulations to them! Our team continues to work with the Library Foundation in many ways, and we’re thankful for their effort to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to North Dakota.

Check out for the latest news from the Library folks.

Not being able to open for the season in 2020 was a very real possibility. It would have been understandable. We are thankful for a board that had the confidence and courage to operate. In spite of challenges, 2020 was incredibly rewarding. 

We are thankful for our customers. They came to Medora and they raised our spirits with comments, cards, letters, emails, texts and phone calls telling us how important it was for them to be in the Badlands – and that Medora and the Musical made them feel positive about their state, their country, and life.

We are fortunate that the Medora Musical, the Pitchfork Fondue, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and the Bully Pulpit Golf Course are in peaceful and spacious outdoor settings. Guests felt safe.

We changed the way we operated to go beyond state and CDC recommendations. Guidelines would have allowed for 75% capacity; we limited our Medora Musical capacity to 45%. Our cast and crew put on two shows for most Saturdays and Sundays so that we kept capacity low and met demand.

We are thankful for the results and the people who made them possible. We achieved about 80% of a “normal” year’s visitation.

We are thankful for our volunteers – there is no way we would have made it without them – and thankful for our many partners who all pitched in to do things differently in this very unusual year.

Medora provided a needed place for recreation and entertainment. It is a privilege to be part of an organization that believed in its vision, “to connect people to Historic Medora for positive, life-changing experiences.” We are deeply thankful for our generous donors and members who encouraged and supported us as we strove to live up to that vision.

Please check out to become a 2021 member or learn more about TRMF.   

One of the most rewarding comments of the year was also one of the shortest: a simple, hand-written message on a sticky note that read, “Thanks for being tough, when it’s tough.” We’re thankful we had the chance to work hard, to be tough, to find new ways to do something good for North Dakota this summer. We’ll keep working to be ready for 2021, too. For that we’re thankful.

We wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season.

Ed Schafer
TRMF Chairman of the Board
Randy Hatzenbuhler
TRMF President

Exciting announcement from the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library!

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation Selects Snøhetta for Design Architect Commission of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, North Dakota.

MEDORA, NORTH DAKOTA — The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation unanimously voted to select Snøhetta for the Design Architect commission of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. Snøhetta will design only the 15th presidential library in the nation. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be located in Medora, North Dakota.

Theodore Roosevelt lived and ranched in North Dakota for the better part of two years after the tragic deaths of his wife and mother in 1884. Roosevelt returned to the Badlands and Medora almost every year until his death in 1919. Theodore Roosevelt National Park – the only of the 62 national parks named for a person, let alone a president – includes Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch, known as the ‘cradle of conservation,’ and will be a critical part of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library plan.

“Snøhetta’s thoughtful design captures the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt and why he came to the Badlands. T.R. came to North Dakota for solace and solitude; the Badlands healed and renewed him, and gave rise to a newfound resiliency. In return, T.R. led our country as the 26th president and dramatically expanded our national park system,” said Melani Walton, chair of the Design + Architecture Committee for TRPLF and a board member of the National Park Foundation. “The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation is confident Snøhetta can carry T.R.’s legacy to future generations.”

“One of Theodore Roosevelt’s most enduring legacies is conservation and our national parks,” said Theodore Roosevelt V, a great-great-grandson and namesake of the 26th president. “This will be the only presidential library alongside a national park and the only national park alongside a presidential library. It will invite visitors to see and experience the very cradle of conservation. That is why this location in North Dakota is perfect for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.”

Snøhetta emerges from an intense design competition that began with over forty (40) firms under consideration by the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. After issuing a Project Brief on December 15, 2019, fourteen (14) firms were invited to respond to the Foundation’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on April 6, 2020, and twelve (12) were able to participate. The Design + Architecture Committee narrowed the field to six (6) with virtual interviews during the pandemic, and announced three (3) finalists on May 18, 2020. Those finalists were: Snøhetta, Studio Gang, and Henning Larsen.

Snøhetta, Studio Gang, and Henning Larsen sent teams to Medora, North Dakota, future home of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, in June 2020. These sessions included surveys of the preferred site as well as meetings with the local community, stakeholders, and residents of both Medora and Billings County. The design concepts from each firm were released to the public on August 17, 2020, and all three firms returned to Medora to present their concepts in an open session of the Board of Trustees and a community open house on August 18, 2020.

“Three world-renowned architectural firms came to North Dakota in the midst of a pandemic — twice! — to compete for the commission of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library,” said Edward F. O’Keefe, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. “Snøhetta, Studio Gang, and Henning Larsen were in the arena and we are forever grateful. Their passion, depth of commitment, and enormous creativity made this an incredibly difficult decision.”

All residents of Billings County were invited to participate in the open house and, even those that did not attend were invited to contribute feedback on the design concepts at

“When designing a new project, we think about how we can more give to the site or community than is initially asked of us,” said Craig Dykers, founding partner of Snøhetta. “We integrated the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library into the landscape of the North Dakota Badlands. The main library building rises from the butte, echoing the surrounding landforms. Visitors are invited on a journey through a preserved landscape of diverse habitats, punctuated with small pavilions providing spaces for reflection and activity. We still have much to learn about President Roosevelt, and we’re looking forward to working with the Medora community and the broader project team to translate this knowledge into an immersive place to learn about T.R.’s life and legacy.”

The winning design concepts for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library by Snøhetta can be found here.

The Board of Directors of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation unanimously approved Snøhetta as the Design Architect on September 16, 2020.

North Dakota-based firm J.E. Dunn will serve as Construction Manager on the project. With the selection of Snøhetta as Design Architect and J.E. Dunn as Construction Manager, the project team at the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation will now select a local architect, based in North Dakota, to work on the ground during construction.

Snøhetta is an internationally renowned architecture and landscape firm with more than 240 employees from 32 nations. Founded in Norway with offices in New York City, Innsbruck, Paris, Hong Kong, and Adelaide, Snøhetta received its first commission in 1989 to re-conceive the Alexandria Library after winning an international design competition. A decade later, Snøhetta won another competition commission to design the Norwegian National Ballet and Opera. In 2004, Snøhetta was commissioned to build the 9/11 Museum, the only cultural building on the World Trade Center Memorial site. Other notable Snøhetta projects include the SFMOMA Expansion in San Francisco, ‘Under’ – Europe’s first underwater restaurant, the Ford Dearborn Master Plan, the reimagining of Times Square in New York City, and Calgary’s new Central Library. In 2014, Snøhetta was commissioned by the Central Bank of Norway to redesign their native country’s currency.

“Snøhetta has created cultural institutions known less by the name of the studio that designed them and more for people’s experience living over, under, and through them,” said Cathilea Robinett, chair of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation. “The experience of the Badlands changed Theodore Roosevelt, and we are inspired by the idea that this special place, and this special architect can do the same for so many more.”
In winning this competition, Snøhetta is the first architectural firm with global roots outside of the United States to design a presidential library. This is of particular poignance since Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to travel outside the United States while in office, and nearly half the population of North Dakota claims Scandinavian roots.

Snøhetta has received almost every architectural award and accolade including, but not limited to, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Bibliotheca in Alexandria, Egypt; the Mies van der Rohe Award for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo; and the AIA Medal for the World Trade Center project.

Further inquires should be directed to Colleen Wolfe, project manager at The Working Group, in association with the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation.

So Far, Better Than Expected — Thank you!

A letter from Randy Hatzenbuhler, TRMF President

In an April video message we shared, I said that “when you’re ready, we’ll be here for you.” Today, I just want to say, “thank you.” Thank you to our visitors, to our board, our team and our partners, and to you, our members and supporters.

Thank you, not only for coming to Medora this summer with a few “ND Smart Restart” changes, but for your support, and for the courage you showed to help us all continue doing our good work here in Medora this year.

Read More »

Big News For Bully Pulpit

Bully Pulpit golfers are going to start noticing something new about the course as they make their way around this fall, and next spring. We’re making some big changes at the course, and we’re about as excited as we were 16 years ago when we opened the tee boxes for the first time.

Read More »

“I Love Medora”

A letter from Colton Keightley,

“My name is Colton Keightley. I am from Willamina, a very small town in Oregon and I am 20 years old. I consider myself somewhat of a unique individual, as I have Cerebral Palsy. Regardless, I do not let this hold me back from living my life to the fullest.”

Read More »

Bully Spirit Award Presented by Rolf Sletten

Rolf Sletten, the first ever Bully Spirit Award recipient, presented the prestigious award to the third recipients, Jim and Joanne Kack.

Rolf’s recognition speech of the outstanding Bully Spirit Jim and Joanne have shown over the years follows.

Rolf’s Recognition

Jim and Joanne, in this world there are people who give and there are people who take.

Some people are scared to death that they might give more than they get and consequently, they almost never give anything of themselves, not of their time, their talents, or their money. If on rare occasion, they do give something of themselves, and are not generously and immediately rewarded, they feel that life is unfair, and they are victims cheated out of something they had coming. I think, “What’s in it for me” is a pretty common attitude. Those are words to live by for too many people.

On the other hand, we have people who give willingly, cheerfully, and generously wonderful people. People with soul and conscience who are not afraid to be generous, people who want to give back to other people and to the community. They are people who don’t worry that they might be giving more than they get.  

Read More »

Summer 2020 – Medora’s Open, And People Are Happy

What people are saying

How important is it that Medora is open this year? We asked some of our visitors that very question. Here’s what they had to say.

Rick and Andrea Winkjer Collin, Bismarck:

It’s a big deal to have Medora open. It gives us some reassurance, which is really important. So many places have closed. The continuity is more important than ever, given all the distractions we’ve faced this year.

Read More »

The Capital Gallery West is Open!

The Capital Gallery West is Open!

The Capital Gallery West, presented by Starion Bank, is open in the Harold Schafer Heritage Center on 4th Street in downtown Medora.

Read More »

The 2020 Medora Musical Cast!

This Medora Musical opens in a week and a half and is full of high-caliber entertainment and top-notch performers from across the nation!

So, we figured you’d want to know who’s in the Show! Get on now, scroll on down to see the entire cast of the 2020 Medora Musical!

Read More »

Medora Musical reopening this summer

MEDORA, N.D. – The Medora Musical is returning this summer while observing coronavirus precautions.

The Medora Musical is following a “Smart Restart” plan as the cast prepares to get up and running.

The plan involves social-distanced seating maps at the Burning Hills Amphitheater, more shows to keep audience numbers down, guidelines on getting into and out of the theater and other health safety guidelines.

Marketing and Communications Director Justin Fisk says reopening the musical is important because it brings a lot of tourism to Medora and the state.

“It’s important for us to reopen smartly with some different levels of business so that folks can continue to protect lives and livelihoods. But also, it’s for our state,” Fisk said.

Fisk says despite reopening, he expects the musical will lose customers due to coronavirus impacts and limited seating. He says they’ve cut the budget to reflect the new, anticipated income. He hopes to be able to announce the show’s opening date sometime in the next couple weeks

By Emmeline Ivy | Posted: Mon 5:01 PM, May 11, 2020