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Sea-Level Rise Affects Fort Lauderdale's Oldest Building

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.
Caitie Switalski
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

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.

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.
Credit Environmental Protection and Growth Management, Broward County / WLRN
The Florida Channel
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.

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Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.