FARGO - A home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's granddaughter that the city wants to demolish to make way for a dike has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Owners John and Sherri Stern, who bought the house at 1458 South River Road because it adheres so closely to Wright's design principles, have tried to show that it's worthy of preservation by applying to be on the register.
Their success demonstrates that historians at three levels of government agree.
The Sterns previously gained recognition from the city's Historic Preservation Commission, which made it possible for them to ask the State Historical Society to nominate their house for the national register.
For the city, this complicates a plan to build a levee along the Red River to improve flood protection, especially for the nearby water treatment plant. City officials have estimated that building a new higher levee through the property would cost $22,500, while a floodwall around the house would cost $2.2 million. Levees, because their weight threatens the stability of the riverbank, cannot be built around the house.
John Stern has said he'd be willing to be left on the wet side of the dike because he had earlier built a lower dike behind his house.
The Forum sought comments from the Sterns and from City Administrator Bruce Grubb on Tuesday, July 18, but didn't immediately hear back from them.
Being on the national register wouldn't protect the house from the city's bulldozers. Registered properties have some protection from federal projects, but city officials have argued the dikes are a local project.
The Sterns' home was built in 1958 for George and Beth Anderson. The couple had asked Wright himself to design the home, but he was too busy and recommended his former apprentices, granddaughter Elizabeth Wright Ingraham and her husband Gordon Ingraham.
The State Historical Society said the Ingrahams built three homes in the Fargo-Moorhead area in Wright's style, but only the Anderson house survives. John Stern has said the other two were lost to flood-control projects.