The Alexander Griggs Award recognizes exceptional personal efforts to preserve Grand Forks’ built and cultural history. It is named for Captain Alexander Griggs, the founding father of the city of Grand Forks. Recipients’ names are added to the permanent plaque that hangs in Council Chambers.
Marsha Gunderson is a true friend of historic preservation. She understands preservation, not as a government regulation to be manipulated or avoided, but as a welcome necessity. For Marsha, historic preservation is more than just a job; it is a calling, a passion.
Events in the spring of 1997 caused the workload of the Historic Preservation Commission to increase a hundredfold. The focus was to save as much history of Grand Forks as possible. Marsha was back in the city when the streets were still wet, bringing national and state experts with her to see the damage. Complicating preservation matters were the complexity of the federal regulations, the intensity of the time constraints, and the myriad of details which could be lost in the mix complicated every action taken in the city. Much of the historic architecture of the city was in jeopardy.
During this especially intense period in the history of Grand Forks, Marsha tirelessly led the Historic Preservation Commission. She donated literally hundreds of hours to promote the goals of historic preservation in Grand Forks. And now, over twenty years later, her tremendous preservation efforts are plainly evident everywhere in town. In no small part because of Marsha’s leadership, the commission as a whole has been recognized for its work. In 2005, the Preservation Commission was presented with the Preservation North Dakota Legacy Award “for exceptional achievements in furthering preservation of the historical, architectural and cultural environment of North Dakota.
Marsha knows Grand Forks. She knows her buildings, and the people and stories behind them. As future generations tell the stories of Grand Forks, the name Marsha Gunderson will rightfully have a prominent place in them.
For her ongoing commitment to the heritage of our buildings and peoples, and for her dedication to sharing that heritage with others, the City of Grand Forks and the Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission are proud to present the Alexander Griggs Award to Marsha Gunderson.