A look inside the long-lost Spalding Hotel


Workers begin demolition of the Spalding Hotel in downtown Duluth on November 20, 1963. (Duluth Herald file photo)

The Spalding Hotel, once located in downtown Duluth at the corner of Superior Street and Fifth Avenue West, has been mentioned several times in past posts – usually because it appeared off to the side in a photo focused on some other building, or in a wide shot of downtown Duluth.

Today I hit the jackpot on Spalding Hotel images – a misplaced file folder in the News Tribune Attic containing bunches of photos from inside and outside the hotel in the year before it was demolished as part of an urban renewal project; the Ordean Building now occupies part of the site.

I don’t have the time to scan all of the photos in tonight, so here are a few select images from the file. I’ll add more in the coming weeks.

Leonard Olson (left), a 10-year Spalding Hotel employee, and guest Harmon Brown wait in the hotel lobby on June 27, 1963. (Duluth Herald file photo)


The Spalding Hotel lobby on July 1, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

Here are a couple of interesting items when you look closely at the above photo…

It’s the arch that made a reappearance this year at the Minnesota State Fair, at O’Gara’s restaurant. It very clearly does match. And, if you look even closer at that poster atop the radiator:

It’s a movie poster for the 1962 horror movie “Premature Burial.” A not-quite-the-same, but very similar poster for the movie can be seen here.


Mrs. Darlene Park, a three-year employee of the Spalding Hotel, in a hotel elevator on June 27, 1963. (News-Tribune file photo)

Note the fallout shelter sign at upper left – capacity 50 people.


Within a few months demolition was under way. Here is one more shot from late November or December 1963, as the Spalding Hotel passed into history:

Share your Spalding Hotel memories by posting a comment. If you have historical photos of the Spalding, or anything in the area, that you’d be willing to share, send them to akrueger@duluthnews.com.

The Floodwood student rebellion of 1972

March 16, 1972

Truant junior high pupils wave banners outside Floodwood School on March 16, 1972. Signs supporting the fired teacher appear along with the one shown second from left which says “Rid America of Tyrance,” indicating a need for remedial spelling. (News-Tribune staff photo)

Floodwood embroiled in school row

Students picket in support of teacher

By Isadore Cohen of the News-Tribune staff

FLOODWOOD — This community of 650 persons in the farmland of southwest St. Louis County, about 40 miles west of Duluth, is ordinarily a quiet place.

These are not ordinary days in Floodwood.

The village and the seven townships which make up the Floodwood school district are in turmoil over the decision of the School Board not to rehire Dan Reed. He is a first-year English teacher in the junior high school.

The turmoil boiled up Thursday in a strike of about 140 students, more than half the total junior-senior high enrollment. They want Reed rehired. As classes began, they took up picket signs instead of books. They paraded in front of the school and through the village, waving signs and shouting support for the embattled teacher.

As the day progressed, the ranks of the pickets thinned. Parents came and took some home. Others ordered their youngsters to go back to school. Late in the morning, at the request of Superintendent Keith Dexter, Senior Class President Steve Norman went out to assure the pickets they could return without facing discipline.

The rumor had spread that the pickets would be put in detention for a year.

More than 25 came back to school after Norman talked to them.

Floodwood Senior Class President Steve Norman turns after telling the picketing students they could come back to school with no punishment. (News-Tribune file photo)


By the end of the day, absenteeism in the school had thinned down to 63, Dexter reported. In the morning, 143 had been absent. That’s out of a total junior-senior high enrollment of 252.

After a long conference late in the day with John Haskell, principal, leaders of the protest said they expected everyone would be back in school today.

Dexter promised they would not be disciplined.

The protest leaders, Andrew Czarneski and John Polo, said they were not giving up their fight to save Reed’s job, however. They took their case to the PTA Thursday night and planned to present a petition to the School Board asking that the Reed case be reconsidered.

The PTA took no action to intervene. PTA members expressed the feeling that since the Board has made its decision not to give Reed further consideration, the solution is to be found at the polls in May.

School Board Chairman John Zalezny said there were no plans at present to hold another Board meeting to reconsider the Reed case. He did not shut the door on such a possibility, however. He said it was possible a meeting would be called “in the very near future” if requested by parents supporting Reed.

About 300 parents and citizens turned up at a Board meeting Tuesday to protest the Board’s refusal to keep Reed. The session ran from 7:30 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

The Board, at that time, reaffirmed by a 4-2 vote its decision not to keep Reed. It had voted unanimously, on Feb. 24, to give Reed notice he would not be rehired.

Zalezny said Reed had been given an opportunity earlier to resign but he had refused.

Floodwood teacher Dan Reed discusses his complaints about principal John Haskell. (News-Tribune file photo)


Reed said the request came to him about a week after the student newspaper, Bear Facts, of which he is adviser, printed an unsigned letter to the editor charging that “someone” – by inference, the principal – was using the school’s intercom system to listen in on classrooms. The writer called this spying.

Haskell denies he used the intercom for this purpose. But he said he did criticize Reed for what he considered irresponsible material appearing in the school paper and asked that all articles be signed.

But this was only one of his criticisms of Reed, he said. He said he had begun to have reservations about Reed’s competence to teach as early as last October.

A round-faced blond who grew up in nearby Kettle River, Reed was graduated summa cum laude last June from UMD.

He said Haskell has been “harassing me all year,” that they had had several confrontations during the year over discipline and other matters, and that their differences came to a head over publication of the letter in the Feb. 3 issue of Bear Tracks.

“Basically it’s a personality conflict,” Reed declared.

He said he and Haskell have different views on the basic education system, that the principal does not approve of his teaching methods and that he has had a hard time working with him. he said he felt most of his failures – knowing what forms to fill out and other such things – were only what could be expected from a first-year teacher.

“I am eager for constructive criticism,” he said.

One of Haskell’s complaints was that Reed was teaching the same material to his 7th, 8th and 9th grade English classes. He has two sections of each.

Reed admits he did give all of them the same material through much of the year. But all of them, he said, needed more work in oral and English composition and he was trying to strengthen their skills in these areas according to changing concepts in education.

He charged Haskell has no rapport with the faculty, not just with him.

Floodwood students Andrew Czarneski (left) and John Polo confront principal John Haskell on March 16, 1972, with their complaints about the treatment of teacher Dan Reed. (News-Tribune file photo)


The student protest – backed by a great many parents – seems to be directed as much at Haskell as in favor of Reed.

A crew-cut veteran of the Army, in which he spent 23 years and retired as a major, Haskell took up teaching at Willow River following graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He spent five years in Willow River as an instructor in problems in democracy and as a counselor. He came to Floodwood two years ago.

From the start, he has run into problems.

He suspended two boys for growing their hair long in violation of the school’s dress code which, he says, he was under instruction to enforce. Parents of the boys sued and Judge Miles Lord ruled in U.S. District Court in Duluth that the boys must be allowed back in school.

Haskell said he also had problems his first year with suspension of girls who were wearing skirts more than six inches above the knee, also in violation of the dress code. This problem was settled without court action.

Today, Floodwood School has no dress code.

It was Haskell, supported by Superintendent Dexter, who recommended that Reed be let go.

Both he and Dexter told student leaders Thursday they would not withdraw their recommendation.

Andrew Czarneski (left) and John Polo, leaders of the Floodwood student protest, talk with superintendent Keith Dexter and principal John Haskell. (News-Tribune file photo)


This came up, late in the morning, during a confrontation between Haskell, Dexter, Andrew Czarneski and John Polo in Haskell’s office.

Andrew and John are president and vice president, respectively, of a group known as RAT (Rid America of Tyrants). They said it was organized last summer for no particular purpose other than socializing.

When they came into his office, they joined in angry accusations against Haskell and his treatment of students as well as Reed.

When Haskell and Dexter told them it was their professional judgment that Reed should be let go and they would not change their point of view, John shot back, “This is a dictatorship. Can’t you say something good about Mr. Reed?”

“Is there any way he can get back in the system?”

“In mu opinion, no. Not any way,” Dexter answered.

John and Andrew returned to the principal’s office in the afternoon and talked with Haskell for almost two hours. That session was much calmer, John said later.

During the afternoon session, he said, he and Andrew and Haskell got to understand each other’s viewpoints better. The students came to the realization, he said, that their only recourse was to go to the School Board and try to get it to reverse itself.


In the next issue of the News Tribune, a short follow-up story reported that all the students were back in class the following day, and Haskell was quoted as saying the walkout “was an emotional thing, and we are not going to punish them for it.”

The paper reported that three of the four School Board members who voted to dismiss Reed were up for re-election that May, and that the incident could sway voters.

That’s where our files end… and where you can pick up the story. If you have any more information to share, please post a comment.

More Northland Faces

Continuing from the previous post, here are a few more “Northland Faces” from the archives:

August 10, 1999 — George Anderson has long been active at Zion Lutheran Church in Duluth.  He joined the church in 1939 and estimates he’s sung at more than 240 funerals. “If the good Lord lets me live another three years,” he says, “I will be happy to have been treasurer for 50 years.” (Renee Knoeber / News-Tribune)


August 1995 — Bill Gambeski of Superior expresses concern over the condition of the sidewalk in front of his house. He lives across  from Cooper Elementary School and children attending the school use the  sidewalk all the time.  He’s concerned one of them may fall and hurt  themselves. (Bob King / News-Tribune)


May 26, 2000 — A proud and happy mother gives her graduating son a kiss – Clara Kirven, 83, kisses her son, Joe Bouie, on the cheek. Joe is graduating Saturday from the College of St. Scholastica. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

Northland Faces

A few days ago a conversation started up over at Perfect Duluth Day about a photo by the News Tribune’s Bob King that appeared on Friday’s front page, of residents of the Denfeld neighborhood concerned over parking permit issues:

As noted on PDD, the photo fits into a general category of images that appears in the News Tribune, and pretty much any daily paper, now and again – the concerned citizen(s) portrait. The next image that popped into my mind from the category was one mentioned in the PDD discussion, a photo by Derek Montgomery of Joan Tabelle, who was having trouble with contractors who worked on her home:

So the call went out on PDD from people who wanted to see more of these types of photos. And I agree, they are great images. As noted by Paul Lundgren on Perfect Duluth Day, the attraction of the images is not from making light of the subjects or their concerns. I guess it’s just an apparent inherent interest in viewing these windows into people’s homes, concerns, celebrations, lives. They’re a reflection of the town we live in; an archive of people and issues of the past.

So in response to the demand, I’ll start featuring more portraits in the Attic. I’ll call them “Northland Faces,” though I’m open to better name suggestions if you have any. And I’m going to expand beyond “concerned citizen” photos to include any portrait that appeared in the paper – of people who are celebrating along with people who have gripes; there are a lot of good “happy” shots, too. The only criteria is it has to be a posed shot.

Because of time constraints, most, if not all of the time I’ll just run these photos with their cutlines, and not seek out the accompanying stories and updates. If there’s any photo you want to know more about, post a comment and I’ll see what I can do. Similarly, please post a comment if you have stories to share about the people in the pictures. And if you think of a memorable photo that I haven’t posted yet, let me know.

And last, as you look at these photos, please keep in mind where they come from – your local newspaper. It’s the News Tribune that gave these people a voice for their concerns and/or accomplishments, the News Tribune that provided the staff to take and publish these images, and the News Tribune that  preserved these photos. The News Tribune continues to do all those things today – so please show some support. And if you already subscribe, or even if you just buy a paper every now and then, thank you.

So with that said, from the News Tribune archives, here is the first batch of Northland Faces:

September 7, 2007 — Wayne Boniface flexes his arm while displaying a large bruise he got while fighting an intruder Friday afternoon at his home in Duluth. (Derek Montgomery / News Tribune)


December 8, 2005 — Garry Nordstrom, of Duluth, stands in front of an apartment building he invested in that can be seen from Piedmont Avenue. The building is vacant, and now Nordstrom is making a political statement against Mayor Herb Bergson and MnDOT.  Nordstrom is upset that during the Piedmont reconstruction project, his street was removed, and now he only has alley access.  He claims Mayor Herb Bergson told Nordstrom he was okay with MnDOT removing his street. (Amanda Odeski / News Tribune)


This is a mystery photo – the only caption information is her name, Mrs. Myra Cash, and the year 1955. If you know more information, post a comment.


November 21, 1998 — Kathy Meyer, owner  of American Marine in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood, is upset that the city put a sidewalk through her business’ blacktop driveway, causing uneven  sections and an expense to her and her neighbors. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)


October 10, 2000 — UWS hockey coach Dan Stauber is  excited about having tickets for the inaugural season of the Minnesota Wild  hockey team, but says the real joy is being able to take his kids, Nora, 8,  Natalie, 5, and Owen, 7, to a bit of sports history. “It’s more exciting for  them than for me. They’ll have something to look back on,” he said. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)


June 20, 1995 — Rose Matthews, 73, from International Falls, is concerned about how Medicare cuts will affect the elderly. (Dawn Villella / News-Tribune)


November 3, 1998 — The Becker brothers – Kyle, 7,  (left) and Jonathan, 8 – are happy that the college students who stole some of the Halloween decorations from their Aspenwood home decided to return the items. About 20 students from the College of St. Scholastica stole decorations from  six homes in the area, but returned them on Monday. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)

Lenox Hotel, 1957

The Lenox Hotel (also known as the Hotel Lenox – the building’s signs refer to it both ways), stood in downtown Duluth on the corner of Superior Street and Sixth Avenue West, where the Incline Station bowling alley is today. The photo above is dated December 1957, although it doesn’t look like winter; apparently the hotel was getting a delivery of Coca-Cola at that moment.

The hotel was built in 1904 by the Ribenack brothers – Henry, Albert and Edward. Edward Ribenack went on to have a long career in the Minnesota Legislature, representing Duluth first in the House and then for many years in the Senate.

According to the text of a Senate memorial service held for Ribenack after he died in 1957, just before his 88th birthday, the Ribenack brothers owned and operated the Lenox until 1947.

Here’s an excerpt about the Lenox Hotel from the 1910 “History of Duluth and St. Louis County”:

The Lenox Hotel, while a comparatively new house, having been built in 1905, has already taken a leading rank among the city’s hotels. It was built by the Ribenack brothers, Henry C, Edward R. and Albert O., who are associated in its management. The Ribenacks are no tyros in hotel management, their father having for many years been a hotel proprietor in Wisconsin.

When the brothers first came to Duluth they entered the restaurant business, but finding this field too restricted for their activities they decided to enter the hotel business. When the hotel was first built it was but four stories high, but in a little more than a year after it was opened they found themselves cramped for room and were compelled to add two additional stories. At the same time they enlarged the dining room and lobby, and added many other improvements. There is telephone connection between every room and the office.

The hotel contains 230 rooms, and ever since it was completed its popularity has been unquestioned. It has been filled to its capacity winter and summer, and during the rush season it has been necessary to turn guests away almost every day in the week. The hotel is run on the American and European plans, and about half the rooms are furnished with private baths, while there are public bath rooms and lavatories on every floor. The hotel and furnishings represent an investment of about $250,000. Its location on Superior street, directly opposite the “Soo” railroad depot, makes it most convenient for the traveling public, and the excellence of its table appeals to the most fastidious appetite.

As noted in the excerpt, the hotel was located across the street from the Soo Line railroad depot, and you can see a corner of the depot in this photo, which was taken earlier than the one above:

The Lenox was located in the heart of Duluth’s “Bowery” district – and you can see the hotel in the distance in the photo with this earlier post on the Bowery.

Obviously, the Lenox was torn down at some point in the 1950s, 1960s or early 1970s. The present-day Lenox Place apartment complex, located a bit west of where the hotel was located, carries on the Lenox name.

Now, I’ll rely on you to fill in the gaps about just when the Lenox Hotel was torn down. Share any information and stories you have by posting a comment.