Former school receives historic designation

On Aug. 2, the State Historical Society of North Dakota announced that the Mandan property located at 406 Fourth St. N.W. has inherited a new designation.

The building that once housed an elementary, middle and high school respectively, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Buildings, sites or structures that are placed on the registry are part of a national program that identifies, evaluates and protects America's architectural resources.     

"It's an honorary distinction; it says that this building has important architectural details to it," said Amy Munson, the grants and contracts officer at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, regarding a building that is chosen to be on the registry. Munson added that it can take up to a year and a half for properties to get on the registry. 

Originally constructed in 1917, the former schoolhouse sits on about two acres in northwest Mandan and had sections added to the structure in 1924, 1954, 1966, 1977 and 1990.

In 2012, the school district sold the property to GPA LLC, led by Yegen Development. Yegen later donated the property to Spirit of Life Catholic Church after an attempted redevelopment project was unsuccessful.  

Next month, construction will begin to renovate the building into 39-unit affordable housing project, according to Erin Anderson, the vice president of development for the Midwest region of Commonwealth Development Corporation, the company overseeing the project.

"The project needs to follow the national historic preservation guidelines, so everything that we're doing has to meet the standards for that," Anderson said. 

The housing project will include eight three-bedroom units, 28 two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units. There will also be a wellness center, chapel, community room, outdoor playground and green space as well as off-street parking. Mother Teresa Outreach will provide support services to residents.

The project received funding from the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency last fall and now will receive additional funding from its new designation through federal historical tax credits. Because the project is utilizing income tax credits, Andrews said possible tenants will need to income qualify. 

"The listing and the associated tax credit for historical preservation are really important to the financial feasibility for preserving this building," said Ellen Huber, Mandan's business development director.

Anderson added that the project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018. 

To learn more about the National Register program in North Dakota, call the State Historical Society of North Dakota at 701-328-2666 or visit history.nd.gov.

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