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List aims to spark interest in history

Fargo is looking to put a sharper focus on its landmarks. The Historic Preservation Commission and city staffers are putting together a Local Landmarks Listing of buildings, monuments and architectural and artistic oddities that give area residen...

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Fargo is looking to put a sharper focus on its landmarks.

The Historic Preservation Commission and city staffers are putting together a Local Landmarks Listing of buildings, monuments and architectural and artistic oddities that give area residents that sense of place that makes us think, "All righty then, I'm home."

"We certainly want to promote historic preservation and keeping significant structures and landmarks as part of our community," commission Chairman David Shultz said Friday. "They're part of our history. They are what makes a community a community."

Shultz said sites that make the list won't be bound with the restrictions that go with being on the National Register of Historic Places. Building owners will be able to change the structures without interference, he said.

Instead, if the list is approved by the City Commission, it will simply be an honor for those distinctive public and private places that make the grade, Shultz said.

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Shultz hopes it creates an awareness and appreciation for what remains of the past.

"It gets us all thinking about history and sense of place," he said.

Dawn Mayo, an assistant city planner, said beyond buildings and monuments, people may wish to nominate landscape features, century trees or unique infrastructure, such as cobblestone streets.

City staffers are working on a preliminary landmarks list, nomination forms and criteria. A Web page is also planned, she said.

For example, the Northern Pacific Railway clock, the Island Park gazebo or the American Legion fountain in Lindenwood Park could make the inaugural list, along with the Works Progress Administration pool fa?ade in Island Park, or the city's last uncovered cobblestone street (just south of the school district's main offices).

Criteria to become a local landmark may include:

- Being important to the development of the community, county, state or country.

- Site of a significant event.

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- Work of a master builder, designer, architect or landscape architect.

- Fine or unique example of a utilitarian structure.

- Established or familiar visual feature.

Another Historic Preservation commissioner, Andrew Nielsen, said that in the end, it will be up to city residents to determine their landmarks.

"I think when people are more aware of these landmarks, they'll be more apt to preserve the history that's there," Nielsen said. "Once it's on a list, it may get people to go down and see it and think about our history."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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