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Historic St. Anne's Senior Residential Home Saved from Demolition

In 1997, a devastating flood engulfed Grand Forks, North Dakota.  To protect the city from further flooding, 30 miles of floodwalls and levees were erected.  The weak soil found near the river was prone to landslides so the flood control structures had to be constructed inland, away from the river.  As a result, neighborhoods and historic buildings were moved or demolished to make way for the floodwalls.  Historic St. Anne's, constructed in 1907, lay directly in the path of a proposed floodwall.  Relocating the massive structure was out of the question.  It seemed that demolition was the only alternative.

Stanley Consultants recommended the floodwall be constructed as a porch around St. Anne's.  "We were out of options; we were going to have to tear St. Anne's down," said Bonnie Greenleaf, USACE project manager.  "We had focused on getting the floodwall as far from the building as possible.  Then Stanley Consultants came in with the idea of having it hug the building.  Everybody loved it!"

St. Anne's is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  To satisfy Commission criteria, the floodwall could literally not touch the building's exterior.  But to look like a porch, the floodwall had to hug the varied exterior contours, wrapping around every corner and mimicking the building's architectural features.  To satisfy both requirements, the porch was designed to sit very close to, but not touch, the building.

It was a win-win solution.  The "porch" saved St. Anne's from demolition; protects the city from flooding; allowed the senior citizens living in St. Anne's to keep their homes; looks like an original part of the structure; and was the most economical option considered.  After the devastating destruction of the flood - then sacrificing more for flood protection - saving St. Anne's provided a way to give something back to a community that had suffered tremendous loss.

"As a result of this study, a lower cost and creative alternative was identified, which allowed the historic St. Anne's property to remain in place, with minimal impacts to the building.  This was to the delight of the city of Grand Forks and the historic preservation commission".

ACASS Rating - Exceptional

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