Fargo, North Dakota (population 90,599), was platted in 1871 at the crossing of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Red River. The settlement grew rapidly to become a State hub for regional commerce, manufacturing, and trade.
Much of downtown Fargo was destroyed by fire in 1893, but the substantial buildings that were later constructed form the nucleus of the city's commercial historic district.
Typical of many communities, Fargo's downtown suffered as a result of development of a regional shopping mall in the 1970s. However, creation of a State Renaissance Zone has spurred downtown redevelopment through a combination of tax exemptions and credits.
Nine high-profile projects in the Renaissance Zone have included historic preservation elements. For example, the Stone Building (1910) was renovated, resulting in a jump in value from $157,000 to $1.2 million. Since 2000, projects in the Renaissance Zone (involving both historic and non-historic buildings) have resulted in a quadrupling of property values.
Fargo today is a North Dakota Certified Local Government, with a Historic Preservation Commission formed in 1990. Numerous private and public buildings of historic value have been transformed. They include the Northern Pacific (1898-1900) and Great Northern (1906) railroad depots, the Cass County Courthouse and Jail, the Fargo Theatre, the Plains Art Museum (located in an old tractor warehouse), and many more.
Turn of the century neighborhoods are filled with mansions and restored worker cottages, and two historic farmsteads on the city's outskirts house park facilities. Visitors can tour Fargo's historic properties with the help of self-guided tours developed by the Fargo Heritage Society, including one entitled "A Walking, Driving, or Horse and Buggy Tour of Historic Fargo."
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2004.