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Sea-Level Rise Affects Fort Lauderdale's Oldest Building

Stranahan House
Caitie Switalski
The Historic Stranahan House and Museum sits just off the Tarpon River, near Las Olas. In recent years, king tides, sea-level rise and Hurricane Irma flooding have soaked the grounds.

On the banks of the New River, the 117-year old Historic Stranahan House and Museum is the oldest building in Fort Lauderdale. It was home to the city’s founding family, Frank and Ivy Stranahan. 

But in recent years, it has suffered the effects of climate change, according to the museum’s Executive Director, April Kirk.


"In the past three years, king tides have become very drastic,” she said. “So we track king tides, we have to rearrange events around them. Water during king tides have come up as high as the top step on the porch.”

So the museum is taking action. Kirk said they're working on raising the wooden house altogether, by putting more land beneath it. They're also raising the river patio where events are held.

"Even though we've raised our seawall … the water is still rising underneath the house. We now have an absorption issue,” she said. “We’re raising the land to come up to the house.”

It's not the first time. The original owner, Frank Stranahan, had to work to keep water out of the house over 100 years ago.

“We’ve been able to track back that in 1905 Frank Stranahan put the first sea wall on this house,” Kirk said. 

To pay for the cost of the new improvements, as well as other property upgrades, the museum has kicked off a new $4 million capital campaign.

The museum had been planning to fundraise for other upgrades to the property, but not this soon.  

"It started with this need of something we can't control: the water rising," Kirk said.

A new season of king tides is expected to start in Fort Lauderdale in early October.

king tide
Credit Environmental Protection and Growth Management, Broward County / WLRN
This is how high the king tide flooding rose in the Stranahan House lawn back in 2013. Since then, Kirk said the water has risen as high as the top step.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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