This two-story house with shed-roofed dormers and glass sun porches is fairly typical of Craftsman designs. The house’s history begins with the populist Nonpartisan League (NPL) capturing the state’s Republican Party in 1916 and dominating the state legislature after the 1918 elections. The NPL established such progressive programs as the North Dakota State Mill and Elevator (GF29), the Bank of North Dakota, a state-owned printing commission, and the North Dakota Home Building Association (HBA), administered by the appointed three-person Industrial Commission, of which William F. Lemke was a member. The HBA began slowly because of investor reluctance to buy its bonds, but it soon authorized loans for three new houses, one of which was this house for Lemke. He borrowed four thousand dollars of the construction cost from the HBA and the remainder from his wife, but cost overruns and design changes during construction eventually provided political ammunition for the conservative rival Independent Voters Association (IVA). In the second half of 1920, building permits were taken out for twenty HBA-funded houses in the vicinity of Lemke’s. Most were modest bungalows, but seven were built speculatively for resale, sparking media characterization of “mismanagement” of the state program. HBA houses in the south Fargo district are testament to an interesting experiment with state socialism in North Dakota’s history and to Lemke’s political influence.
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William F. and Isabelle Lemke Home Building Association House
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