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Mike Nowatzki, Published August 20 2009

President’s home inspired by ‘North Dakota nice’: Chapman, his wife, may start moving in this weekend

Construction crews are putting the final brush strokes on the new president’s house at North Dakota State University.

Local media outlets were given a tour Wednesday of the two-story brick house at University Drive and Administration Avenue in north Fargo.

Terry Stroh, the architect who designed the home, described the 5,100-square-foot house as having a “traditional” style. It borrows architectural features from other campus buildings, and its interior detailing is reminiscent of homes on Fargo’s historic Eighth Street South, he said.

“We were trying to get after a house that said that this is the house of a president of a major university, but also keep it within a scale that made sense,” Stroh said.

The front door opens into a spacious foyer with high ceilings to inspire a sense of grandeur. Archways welcome visitors into the formal dining and living rooms, creating “that kind of presidential feel, and yet it’s not overdone,” he said.

A fireplace will warm the main gathering area, which transitions to an open kitchen and has lots of windows overlooking a sprawling patio decorated with freestanding Romanesque columns.

One unique feature is the combination laundry room and serving kitchen, which will allow staff to clean up after events without disturbing guests, Stroh said. Detached restrooms on the west side of the house serve the same purpose.

President Joseph Chapman is scheduled to move into the house as early as this weekend, which is when NDSU students also start moving into dorms, university spokeswoman Najla Amundson said.

A committee that included Chapman’s wife, Gale, provided design input on the house’s design. Stroh said they wanted it to incorporate “North Dakota nice” and a soft elegance that would be comfortable for gatherings and put on a good face for the university.

After all, in addition to being the president’s home, “Really, it’s basically a fundraising tool,” he said.

The new house is almost 2,000 square feet larger than the old NDSU president’s house, which was demolished in April 2008 as recommended by architects because of structural deficiencies.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528