The Bruflat Congregation in Portland, North Dakota, created preliminary plans in 1888 for the construction of the Bruflat Academy and Business Institute. There was a parochial boarding school organized at Gran Congregation, close to Mayville, North Dakota, by Pastor Bjug Harstad around 1885. However, congregations farther west required a more convenient location. Members of the Bruflat Church decided upon the establishment of an expanded parochial school, and also an academy for those students who had already been confirmed, and to build a substantial building large enough to satisfy all needs. Mayville was suggested for the ideal location, but the logical and finalized location was the parochial school already functioning in Bruflat Church.
Church members from Mayville, Bang, and Norman congregations organized themselves into the Norwegian Lutheran Congregation Stock Company and sold shares for the construction. 503 shares were sold, amounting to $5035, an adequate amount for building to begin. The final completed cost was around $7000. The first floor was to be for the parochial department and the second floor for the academy department. The third floor was mostly rooms for faculty members and girls. A dining room and kitchen were located in the basement.
The school opened on November 18, 1889 for both parochial and academy departments. 100 students attended the first year. In 1891, the Gran Boarding School closed and joined Bruflat Academy. As the institution grew, the demand for expansion became so great that a dormitory was built in 1896. This building housed boys on the second and third floors, while the first was used mainly for bookkeeping, commercial classes, and an auditorium. Also that year, a small hospital and a steam heating plant were added. In 1912, a gymnasium was built by the alumni. A variety of courses were offered when the institution flourished, such as normal, college prepatory, commercial, shorthand and typewriting, simple stenographic, and music.
The Academy remained open during World War I, although it was plagued by a shortage of funds. This continued until Fall 1918, when it was forced to close. In 1920, the buildings were sold to the Portland Special School District for high school purposes.
The Bruflat Academy, Portland, North Dakota, records contain a manuscript with a brief history of the Academy from 1889 to1918 written by Theodore Gilbertson. Bruflat Academy was one of the first advanced educational institutions in North Dakota.
An addition to the collection consists of a textbook, History of the United States, which was used at the Academy. The book was used by Erling Erickson's mother, Anna Odegaarden (later shortened to Odegaard), at Bruflat during the 1917-18 school year. Opposite the title page is a list of the students in the class: Robert Dahl, Joseph Stockmoe, Edwin Kyllo, Joseph Gilbertson, Anna Odegaard, Olga Kville (Odegaarden's first cousin), Ovidia Rydland, Oline Viken, and Ida Hefta. The book also contains scribbling and notes commonly found in high school textbooks. For example, page 344 contains backwards writing which must be held to a mirror to read. Page 345 contains a short poem written about Odegaarden's classmates, and study notes can be found written in the margins throughout the book.