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Historic downtown Fargo home gets reprieve while fire-damaged home faces demolition

Fire damaged home to be torn down, while downtown historic home gets reprieve

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A condemned home is seen Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, at 711 10th Ave. N., Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — One small apartment owner in north Fargo told Fargo City Commissioners he was having trouble with insurance claims but would be tearing down his fire-damaged structure in the coming days, while another owner of a historic home downtown has received a permit to continue rehabilitation.

The 1904 apartment building at 711 10th Ave. N., which has been the site of 35 calls to police in recent years and had to be secured eight times because of squatters breaking in, will be torn down, owner Brandon Raboin told the commissioners.

Police were called to the structure starting in early May to clear it of squatters, but activity continued until July despite the structure being boarded up.

Raboin was given until Oct. 1 to have the structure that was damaged in a February fire demolished. He said he secured a contract to have it torn down, and asbestos removal was underway.

After it's demolished, he said, he plans to build townhomes on the site, similar to an attractive project his company built next door.

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Inspections Director Bruce Taralson said the city should still declare it a dangerous building to make sure the work is completed.

Commissioner Arlette Preston wondered how some of these dangerous homes or buildings that the city addresses at almost all of their meetings can "get so bad."

She didn't really get an answer, but Commissioner Dave Piepkorn praised Taralson, who is retiring, for being a "change agent" and working to clean up dangerous structures in the city's older neighborhoods.

Taralson helped "make the city a better place," Piepkorn said.

The other structure discussed was what's known as the Beebe home at 717 Third Ave. N. that is squeezed in between other homes but was once the home and office of one of the city's first architects, Milton Beebe.

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The historic Milton Beebe house in north Fargo is seen on Monday, August 9, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Beebe designed courthouses and other buildings from New York to central North Dakota.

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In recent years, the more than 100-year-old home fell into disrepair, although property owner Ron Ramsay has been working to repair the structure.

Ramsay, an architectural history professor who has been teaching at North Dakota State University for five decades, once lived in the home.

In a telephone interview following the meeting, he said he wasn't informed the City Commission was going to talk about his property.

What's happened recently, he said, is that a Plains Architecture Foundation with five board members has been formed to purchase the home from Ramsay with hopes of having it turned into a museum. They aim to have the building rehabilitated by winter.

Ramsay said the sale could take place within a week or more so fundraising and further work can begin.

The biggest chore remaining is to have a new foundation poured before moving the building 12 feet to the east toward an alley.

Ramsay said the board members are North Dakota State University Architectural Professor Cindy Urness of Fargo, Rourke Art Gallery Executive Director Jonathan Rutter of Moorhead and architects Milton Yurgens, Jeremiah Johnson and Richard Kenyon. He said they will be working on architectural drawings for the home and helping raise funds.

Taralson said the new permit to have work completed will be good for a year.

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Piepkorn said Monday he had just driven by the home and saw three-foot high weeds and pigeons surrounding the home. He wondered if something couldn't be done to have work done sooner.

"All we did was just give them more time," he said.

As for the retiring Taralson, he will be replaced by Shawn Ouradnik, a graduate of the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, who has 12 years of experience in municipal inspections, including having worked for the City of Mandan starting in 2017. He was one of 13 applicants and six finalists for the job and was selected by a team of five city staff members and Piepkorn.

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Volunteers lend a hand as they scrape paint and remove brush at the historic Milton Beebe house in north Fargo on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. David Samson / The Forum

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