Oil industry giant Harold Hamm donated $50 million for the planned Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in western North Dakota.
Hamm, who founded Continental Resources and pioneered horizontal drilling in North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken region, made his donation in all cash according to Library CEO Ed O’Keefe.
Gov. Doug Burgum announced Hamm’s donation in his State of the State address to the Legislature.
The new gift will advance construction and development of the library in honor of the 26th president, who ranched and hunted in the Medora Badlands in the 1880s.
O’Keefe declined to say how much the library project has raised in total, but added, “We are still actively fundraising. Harold’s gift is a game-changer, and we want everyone to get in the arena for the T.R. Library.”
Hamm’s current net worth is estimated at $27 billion.
Hamm in a statement said: “We invest in big ideas that are built to last. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will inspire Americans for centuries not decades. Theodore Roosevelt was a person of great vision and leadership, and he was transformed during his time in North Dakota. It is an honor to support this ambitious vision which will perpetuate TR’s legacy and bring visitors from around the world to the Badlands for generations to come.”
The 2019 Legislature approved a $50 million operations endowment for the library, available when $100 million was raised in private donations. Library organizers in October 2020 announced they had reached that threshold.
It’s unclear how much the library will cost. The “core project” will be less than other presidential libraries costing from $400 million to $900 million, according to O’Keefe.
The library’s land sale was completed last year. The 90.3 acres of U.S. Forest Service land near the Medora Musical venue cost $81,000. The Forest Service appraised the land. The Roosevelt family covered the cost.
The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation last year donated 3.5 acres to the library foundation for parking, walking and hiking paths. The two foundations also signed an agreement creating an access easement for the library’s use of Chateau Road.
The library project is about to enter “construction documentation — which is the fourth of five design phases before we anticipate beginning construction,” O’Keefe said.
Organizers plan to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking before the end of this year.
Hamm has made significant donations to other projects in North Dakota, including $1.8 million in 2010 to help finance an expansion of the state Heritage Center & Museum in Bismarck, $10 million in 2012 to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks for a geology school, and $12 million last year to the engineering school at the University of Mary in Bismarck.