The Patterson building in downtown Bismarck once housed presidents and politicians, but today it serves a different purpose — like giving Cindy Highley an affordable place to live.
“If these walls could talk, we could write books,” Highley said.
The building started as the McKenzie Hotel in 1911, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Since 1982, it’s served as affordable rental housing for low-income people, specifically those who are elderly or disabled.
Until today, it hadn’t been renovated since the ’80s.
“It really needed updating in the kitchen and bathroom area, and the flooring. It’s all more convenient and I think more elegant,” Highley said.
Highley has lived in the 10-story building for the last three years.
Now, she’s reaping the benefits of the past year’s renovation, alongside about 120 other residents. That’s thanks to The Schuett companies, which began the upgrades last May.
“The first time I came out to see the building when it was offered for sale, I just kind of fell in love with it,” Schuett Companies President and CEO Tom Schuett said.
The $22 million project was funded in part by the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, federal low income housing tax credits and the National Housing Trust fund.
“When we do provide funding for projects, we want them to be in the existing infrastructure of the city, rather than going out to the edge and developing properties. It’s really important to keep what we have,” North Dakota Housing Finance Agency Executive Director David Flohr said.
Though much has changed since the early 20th century, some things have stayed the same.
“You might look at the tiles in the entryway and say ‘Why aren’t they cleaner?’ Well those are the actual tiles that were in the Patterson Hotel and we’ve cleaned them as much as we can,” Schuett said.
For Highley, who lives on the 10th floor, she’s just happy with the view.
“I can see Capitol fireworks, Lincoln, the U Mary bell tower, Fort Lincoln, but I can’t see Russia from my window,” Highley said.
The Schuett companies will also offer services to residents like housekeeping, meal prep, laundry, medication assistance, transportation, nursing and more. That’s expected to be implemented by the end of the year or early next year.