Duluth Preservation Alliance announces city’s most endangered places, says city needs to do more

DULUTH, MN – The Duluth Preservation Alliance announced its top 10 endangered places of 2021 on Saturday.

The places have all a historical importance that the alliance calls to renew, restore and rehabilitate.

The list includes ten buildings ranging from the Esmond Building to the Brownstone Apartments on 4th Street and the much contested Pastoret Terrace.

They’re all special to people like Jessica Fortney, President of DPA.

“Duluth has its own unique history, and we want to celebrate that. And that’s what makes it different from any other city,” said Fortney.

Vice President Blake Romesesko said these places are in danger of destruction and the impending demolition threatens Duluth’s character.

“We are so in a unique situation of the buildings that we have, and I think this is a key part of our identity,” Romensesko said.

The places on the list are classified into three categories: under-recognized, imminent demolition and uncertain future.

All the fateful words that worry the group, feeling that the city could do more to help.

Duluth city council member general Zack Flipovich said the council is already working to preserve and reuse what it can.

“Having these design standards, in part to make sure the city prioritizes the reuse and rehabilitation of buildings before they are demolished,” Flipovich said. “And that’s something I’m working on with the city staff.”

Flipovich said Duluth’s historic buildings maintain a sense of place in the city and defending them is an important step.

“These older buildings were built to last, and they’ve stood the test of time, and so if we’re able to preserve that and preserve these building techniques through these buildings, I think it’s a win-win for our community, ”says Flipovitch.

To help DPA’s mission, you can visit their website.

For the complete list of places threatened by the DPA and their categories, see below.

The 10 most threatened places
The list is organized from west to east. Each place belongs to one of the following three categories:

● Imminent demolition: there are active demolition plans

● Uncertain future: contains a combination of deferred maintenance, unscrupulous
long-term ownership and / or non-use

● Under-recognized: currently considered safe, but has been significantly overlooked
historical and therefore may be vulnerable to future threats

  1. Fond du Lac district (under-recognized)

The Fond du Lac district is important for both the Aboriginals and the non-Aboriginals of this region.
It was the first official town of modern Duluth was Fond du Lac.

It was an important Ojibway center located on a key canoe route on the Saint-Louis River from the 16th to the 19th century.

It was the site of a fur trading post, mission and place
where the United States negotiated two important treaties with Ojibwa rulers in the 19th century.

Duluth’s oldest house is in the neighborhood and was built by Peter J. Peterson in 1867.

In the 20th century, Fond du Lac became a leisure center where the Duluthians used to go
swim or boating in summer and ski jump in winter.

  1. Work People’s College (Built 1913 | 402 S. 88th Ave W | Under-recognized)

Built in 1913, it had classrooms in the front and a dormitory in the back.

The Work People’s College was one of the very few, and probably the first, formal workers’ schools in
the country.

The school has been associated with the industrial workers of the world, a radical work
and taught courses on socialist thought and trade union organization, as well as other
conventional liberal arts.

The school was one of the first targets of the Palmer raids of 1919.

Classes continued thereafter, but the school never recovered.

It finally closed in 1941. Today the building is divided into

  1. DMIR Ore Dock # 5, built in 1914 (1914 | S. 37th Ave. W. | Future Uncertain)

When DMIR Dock 5 was built in 1914, it was the first non-timber ore dock built in Duluth.
It is constructed of steel and concrete, measuring 80 feet high and over 2,300 feet long.

Pier 5 was the largest wharf of its kind on the Great Lakes and could load 25,000 tonnes of iron ore into a
ship in about two hours.

Pier 5 ceased to be used in 1985 and has remained unused since.

Fraser disposed of the ore chutes from the wharf in 2012.

  1. Esmond Building, 2001 West Superior Street (1913 | 2001 W. Superior Street | Imminent demolition)

The name Esmond is set in stone, but the final name was changed to Rex Hotel before the building was completed.

It was built for Duluth Brewing and Malting Co. as one of their many branded hotels with taprooms that only served their beer.

The building changed its name several times in the decades that followed until it became The Seaway Hotel in 1959, the same year as the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, making Duluth an international port.

The building is an important part of Duluth’s brewing history, an industry that has recently played a central role in the commercial revival of the West End.

  1. Pastoret Terrace (1887 | 127 E. 1st Street | Imminent demolition)

Pastoret Terrace was originally a grouping of six bourgeois townhouses designed by Oliver
Traphagen in 1887. Traphagen was the first architect of Duluth’s boomtown era of the 1880s-1890s.

In 1924, Pastoret underwent an overhaul with the removal of the pointed turret
roof and the addition of the lower level storefront that would become the Kozy Bar home.

The townhouses were divided into many apartments.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as contributing to the Duluth Commercial Historic District.

A fire broke out in the building in 2010. The private owner lost the property to the county due to tax forfeiture.

The Town of Duluth (Duluth Economic Development
Authority) acquired it in 2013 and intended to demolish it.

Another fire that destroyed much of the roof occurred in February 2021.

The courts will determine the fate of the building.

  1. St. Regis Flats (1908 | 125 N. 2nd Avenue East | Future uncertain)

This large building currently has 18 affordable housing units. However, due to the lack of heat, the building is unsuitable for human habitation.

The 1910 census shows that the first residents were mainly white-collar office workers.

They were also all either Americans, first-generation Americans, or immigrants from “white” countries in Northern Europe and Canada.

  1. Krause Saloon (built 1888-1895 | 619 E. 4th Street | Imminent demolition)

The building was the home and living room of the German immigrant family Gottlieb and Paulina Krause.

Most recently it was the Last Chance Liquor and Wine, which has been running out of the building for decades.

It is one of the few remaining timber-storey commercial buildings in Duluth. Soon it is
expected to be demolished for the Brewery Creek Apartments development.

  1. 4th Street Brownstone Apartments (1899 | 627 E. 4th St. | Future uncertain)

The 1905 Minnesota Census lists building residents as primarily U.S.-born families with white-collar jobs like engineers, accountants, and employees.

The building currently has 21 affordable housing units, including the unoriginal “motel” addition to the front.

  1. First Baptist Church (1908 | 830 E. 1st St. | Future uncertain)

In 1919, the original congregation merged with another, changing its name to United Baptist Church.

The main focal point in the sanctuary of the current building is a large Tiffany stained glass window
window representing the apparition of Christ to Mary Magdalene.

Another iconic element of the sanctuary is the sixteen-row Kimball pipe organ.

  1. German Evangelical Church of St Paul (1872 | 932 E. 3rd Street | Future uncertain)

It is the oldest church in Duluth.

It housed a large bell cast from a cannon used during the Franco-Prussian War. The bell was presented to the church in 1874 by Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany.

The congregation (which then became the Church of Peace) left the building in 1959. The church was eventually turned into apartments.

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