published : 2023-08-24

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Begins to Take Shape in North Dakota's Badlands

Construction of the 26th US president's library, an ambitious $180 million project, commenced on June 15, marking a significant step in the nation's history.

A close-up shot of blue collar workers taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. The focus should be on the workers' hands, visibly soiled and roughened by hard work, symbolizing the monumental effort in building the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Amidst the rugged beauty of North Dakota's Badlands, history is slowly taking shape. Here, workers have undertaken the monumental task of constructing the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, a tribute to the 26th President of the United States, who honed his skills as a rancher and hunter in these very lands during the 1880s.

This monumental project entered its construction phase on June 15, with builders working diligently to prepare the land and erect the library's key structures. Key steps were initiated, including the removal of topsoil in line with the project's cut-fill plan, to make way for the east retaining wall of the planned library.

Sequentially moving from the east wing to the west wing and back, workers are steadily turning the architectural plans for this site into a tangible structure. As Library CEO Ed O'Keefe stated, anyone visiting the site would be able to observe this intricate process unfolding.

A panoramic image of the North Dakota's Badlands, captured with a Nikon D850, showcasing the desolate beauty of the landscape where the library stands. The shot should capture the contrast between the rugged land and the advanced construction in progress.

The library will be situated on a 93-acre site near the acclaimed Medora Musical venue and the picturesque national park that carries Roosevelt's name. An exchange of 90 acres of U.S. Forest Service land, which was finalized last year for $81,000, has made this possible, thanks to the approval of Congress and the financial support of the Roosevelt family.

While the total cost of the project is estimated at $180 million, construction will persist through the winter season, except in conditions of extreme weather. Despite any potential hardship, O'Keefe expressed confidence that the team is 'hardy and resilient.'

Project organizers envision a high-profile grand opening of the library on July 4, 2026, aligning with the 250th anniversary of America's founding. This would be a proud moment for everyone involved in the project and a celebration of American history.

A photograph taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III presenting a sophisticated portrait of Library CEO, Ed O'Keefe, standing in front of the construction site. Smiling and contemplative, the photo provides a human connection to the grand project.

The financial support for this undertaking has been considerable. In 2019, a $50 million operations endowment from North Dakota's Republican-controlled Legislature was approved, contingent upon organizers raising an additional $100 million in private donations, a goal they achieved the following year. The fundraising feat, however, did not stop there. The project has now surpassed $200 million in total fundraising and commitments.

Significant contributors to this project include Oil tycoon Harold Hamm, a leading figure in North Dakota's Bakken oil field, who donated a substantial $50 million. The state-owned Bank of North Dakota has also granted a $70 million line of credit for the project, intended to alleviate initial construction costs.

Among other public figures advocating for the project is Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, a successful software entrepreneur. Burgum strongly supported the library proposal in the 2019 session and, along with his wife Kathryn, generously donated at least $1 million towards the project.