The proposed nomination of six local schools to the National Register of Historic Places will be discussed at the Tuesday meeting of the Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission.
The public is invited to the meeting to learn and ask questions about the nomination, which includes Ben Franklin, Lewis and Clark, Viking, West and Wilder elementary schools and Valley Middle School.
The meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, at City Hall, Room A101, is an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the nomination, said Susan Caraher, who will give a presentation on the nomination.
Caraher has been hired as a consultant by the commission to conduct research, gather data and images and write the nomination, which will be sent to the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office in Bismarck.
It is among five nominations scheduled to be considered by the State Historic Preservation Board at its Aug. 30 meeting, Caraher said.
The six Grand Forks schools have been selected for nomination based on design features that reflect the “mid-century modern” architectural style, marked by such things as a covered, recessed main entrance, a continuous horizontal row of windows and a single-story floor plan.
The schools were built after World War II, from the late ‘40s to the mid-’60s, to educate members of the baby boom generation and accommodate the city’s growing population.
Other schools of that era also were considered for nomination but, ultimately, disqualified due to architectural changes to the original building years later, said Chuck Flemmer, chairman of the Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission.
Twelve schools were originally surveyed by an architectural historian, Flemmer said, but six “had changed too much -- such as with additions or remodeling -- their architectural integrity was compromised.”
Last month, the Grand Forks School Board voted, by a narrow margin, to allow the nomination to go forward, given assurances that the nomination process could be halted at any point before the state would submit it for federal review.
That action took place after school district administrators recommended against moving the nomination forward based on concerns that placement on the National Register would lead to delays or higher costs in improvements or repairs, and impede demolition of these buildings, if necessary, in the future.
At a School Board meeting earlier this summer, Flemmer stated that listing on the National Register does not protect a school building from being altered or razed. It’s the intended use of federal monies in a construction project that would trigger a review that may hamper the school district’s facilities planning, he said.
The schools’ nomination to the National Register also would have to be approved by the Grand Forks School Board before it could be submitted to the federal Department of the Interior, Flemmer said.
If approved and accepted by all parties, the nomination would be submitted to the National Register of Historic Places this fall, Caraher said.