Fargo Homeowner Fights to Save His Historic Home

The city of Fargo delayed their decision to buy out and demolish a local man's home until the Fargo Historic Preservation Commission meets

Some Fargo homeowners are fighting back against buyouts as part of a project to meet the 500 year flood protection goal.

One homeowner said his property has historic significance and he doesn’t want to go.

The house designed by the granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright was originally constructed in 1958.

John Stern has been living here since 1985.

Since receiving a letter from the city telling him his house had to go, he has been searching for a way to save what he calls a valuable piece of architectural history.

“Regardless of who lives here, this house is worth saving,” said Stern.

After he spoke with multiple experts, Stern said he found that building a flood wall around the home would actually be less expensive for the city than buying the estimated $500,000 structure.

He also argued that a temporary dike would still have to be built to protect the rest of the neighborhood, which he said wouldn’t meet the ultimate goal of permanent flood protection, although city engineers dispute that claim.

“So why wouldn’t you spend half as much money building the flood wall to protect a classic architectural masterpiece like this rather than just tear it down and put up a dike?” asked┬áStern.

Stern has applied for his home to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places and his home has already received recognition from the FM Heritage Society for architectural preservation.

“It’s an arrow in my quiver in protecting the house, but I don’t know that it would necessarily stop the city,” said Stern.

In the City Commission meeting held Tuesday city engineers disputed Sterns claims that the flood wall would be less expensive.

They said it would cost almost ten times more than Sterns original estimates of $250,000.

For the commissioners, their concern was less about cost and more for their commitment to a 500 year flood protection plan, which the flood wall would fail to meet.

“We have to look out for the good of the whole and so it’s a difficult thing, but that’s the way we have to do it,” said City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn.

“If we can agree that the water plant needs to be at that level, and this area does, then the answer is given to us,” said Commissioner Tony Gehrig.

Commissioner John Strand, interested in the historical significance of the home, moved to delay the decision on Stern’s home until the Fargo Historic Preservation Commission meets.

The measure passed three to two.

Commissioners voted to move ahead and remove other homes in the neighborhood.

Some of those neighbors say they’ll be doing what they can to fight that decision.

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