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.

22 Responses

  1. Laurel McKenzie Lamb

    My grandparents, George and Eva McKenzie, bought tons of furniture, linens, and rolls of beautiful wool carpeting to furnish their new business, The Birches, on Woodland Avenue. I was 6 and remember riding in a big laundry cart and being pushed down the wide hallways as they shopped for all the treasures.

  2. norm

    I was a part time cook at the Spalding back in 1959 – While I was in college.Worked the weekend breakfast shift, and the Saturday night buffet. I worked with Jim Hughes and the chef, I can’t remember his name, but he was German. “Cut the liver thin, so it won’t be so thick.” Great memories.

  3. Gloria Brunette

    Do you find any that include the Minnesota Arrowhead Association office? Or of Jessie Rawlings the public stenographer who had a desk in the lobby for many years? I worked for the Minnesota Arrowhead Assoc in 1958/1959 while Lee Vann was the Executive Director!

  4. Thayer Butler

    I used to attend Rotary Club Santa lunches with my dad in the early 60’s at the Spalding…I remember the room ( ballroom?) where they met. dad also took me to watch when the wrecking ball took that grand old hotel down…..

  5. Marian Ewald Jones

    There is a picture postcard at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan of the old Spalding Hotel in the Driving America Exhibit. It had a note that it was built in 1899, I believe, and was used mostly by railroad and shipping customers.
    By 1913 or so, most of its customers were motorists from around the country. It peaked my interest because I have 3 nieces living in Duluth. When I inquired of them they said it had been demolished in 1963, sadly. Too bad these grand old buildings can’t be saved.

    1. Marian Ewald Jones

      Thanks for a look inside the Spalding Hotel in Duluth. The girl operating the elevator brings back memories of that era:)

  6. Tim

    I took dance lessons across the street from the Spalding at the time it was being torn down. I remember being fascinated by the wrecking ball.

  7. Debster

    I left Duluth for a much more profitable life on the east coast in 1988. Out here, buildings come and go on a regular basis, no one pays attention. It’s quaint and comforting to find that those in my hometown care and remember this way.

  8. Pingback : Last set of Spalding Hotel photos | News Tribune Attic

  9. Margaret Dugdale

    Thanks for the Spalding Hotel pictures. I was born and raised in Duluth and graduated from Central High School in ’45. I worked for the Minnesota Arrowhead Association from 1945 to 50. We moved from Hotel Duluth into the Spalding Hotel. It was a great hotel and enjoyed working there. The food was good in the dining room and also the people were very friendly. It really brought back wonderful memories. I also spent time at the Glass Block store, and think there was an eating area in the basement where I had lunch many times. I now reside in Washington state, northwest of Seattle.

  10. Jim Heffernan

    I worked at the News Tribune from 1963 to 2005 in several newsroom capacities, starting as night-side (morning Tribune) reporter about a month before they started wrecking the Spalding. Boarded up and spooky looking in the weeks before it was razed, one night we heard a fire alarm for the Spalding on the police radio. The city editor chose fledgling reporter me to walk down to the hotel to see what it was all about. No smoke, no fire, but the firefighters had to go inside and inspect each floor of the building. Surprisingly, they let me tag along — climbing stairwells in the dark lighted only by their flashlights. Floor after floor we climbed in the dark, unheated and abandoned hotel. No smoke no fire. In fact, it was the only no smoke no fire alarm that I covered that I’ll always remember. Had it burned it would have been quite a conflagration. More’s the pity. Would have been a good news night and a great “Viking Funeral” for the once-grand Spalding.

  11. paul johnson

    The pics of the manager in the rain is what my mother would call “a typical Duluth day”.
    The lure of the urban renewal money should’ve been ignored. The Soo Depot was another lost treasure.

  12. Juanita Whitebird

    My grandmother used to be a chambermaid at the hotel in about 1915 or so. First time she ate ice cream , she was about 12 or 13 years old at the time – before child labor laws were in effect – which she said was the greatest event which had happened in her lifetime,

  13. PJ, Duluth

    Loved seeing these. Keep digging through those old files … this was a treasure! I only vaguely remember the Spalding, but these old photos of downtown Duluth are so enjoyable. Thanks for posting!

  14. Serine

    It’s great to see pictures of historic Duluth. I seem to remember that a few years ago the Duluth News Tribune published a book titled something like “Duluth Then and Now”. Are there still copies available?

  15. Jim

    I remember the great meals and buffets that were served at the Spalding. It was indeed a shame what urban renewal
    accomplished. Today, more individuals have a passion for restoring these grand old buildings than they did years ago.

  16. Peter Fifield

    Nice to see these old images. My great-grandfather was an original investor in the Spalding Hotel in the 1880s. It’s too bad that these old treasures were not appreciated in the 1950s and 60s.

  17. Phil Larson

    My dad had a funny story about staying at the Spalding. Once while traveling in northern Ontario, he pulled over beside a railroad crossing and hopped in the back seat of the car to catch some sleep. He awoke to the sound of a train blowing its horn for the crossing and the headlight shining in the car. He was in a panic thinking he had parked the car on the tracks and desperately tried to get out before the train rolled by on the curved section of track at the last second. This incident sparked recurring vivid nightmares of being hit by trains. Later, while staying at the Spalding, the train horns at the Depot triggered the same nightmare – and he woke up in the lobby, standing in his underwear! So imagine a near-naked, panicked, sleepwalking man hurtling down the stairs in the photo…

  18. Diane

    Do you have any pictures showing the rooms? I have a mirror that my mother bought @ the sale that sold off the furnishings of the hotel. Would love to see it in it’s original setting.
    Too bad they tore it down for a generic looking block.

  19. Tansey

    The 1963 graduating class of Duluth East had its banquet there in the spring of 63. Too bad it was torn down- many of these old hotels are bringing in big bucks these days.

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