May is National Historic Preservation Month. Today, we highlight a North Dakota property on the National Register of Historic Places.
Construction of the George and Beth Anderson house in Fargo was completed in 1959. The structure is a bi-level brick house done in the Wrightian style, inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright during his “Usonian” period. The house was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places because it embodied the Wrightian style. Largely unaltered, it maintains original masonry walls and woodwork throughout.
Yet there is a little more to this story. The house was actually built by the granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright, Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, and her husband Gordon, a former Taliesin apprentice under Wright. The couple was based in Colorado. Three homes they created for residents in the Fargo/Moorhead area are still standing.
Architecture was in the blood of the Wright family. Elizabeth Wright Ingraham had decided by the age of 14 that she wanted to be an architect, joining her grandfather, as well as her father, John Lloyd Wright (who also invented the Lincoln Logs children toy.) One of her daughters, Catherine Ingraham, became a professor of architecture at the Pratt Institute in New York.
Elizabeth found her own place and style amidst her family’s work, and she founded the Wright-Ingraham Institute. She was passionate about architecture and community, and became an environmental activist-educator, promoting responsible designs. She was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and wrote numerous works.
The George and Beth Anderson House in Fargo was, in Elizabeth Wright’s words, “derivative of Wright’s style.” Beth was interested in architecture and landscape design, and was involved with the planning of their house, and most of the remodeling projects were done in keeping with the original design.
In 2003, the kitchen was remodeled by later owners, with Elizabeth Wright Ingraham giving her approval, noting: “Houses are breathing things. You have to keep maintaining them or they grow stale.”
Listen for more stories of preservation in North Dakota as we continue to acknowledge "National Historic Preservation Month."
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
George and Beth Anderson House National Register of Historic Places Registration Form
Sarah M. Walker, Head of Reference Services
North Dakota State Archives