A “Haunted House” In Duluth, 1960s

An old home at 230 S. 29th Ave. West in Duluth, circa 1960s

This photo came from a folder in the News Tribune archives marked “urban renewal” — the photo is labeled “Haunted House.”

The caption reads: The old Hochs home at 230 South 29th Avenue West

There’s no date on the photo — which makes it nearly impossible to find the story it accompanied (the search continues). But here’s what we do know about the photo…

The site where this home stood, at the corner of 29th Avenue West and Helm Street, is now part of the grounds of Duluth main post office, which opened in 1970. That dates the demolition of this house to sometime in the mid- to late 1960s (it probably survived an initial round of demolition in the area, in the early 1960s ahead of the construction of Interstate 35. That round of house-razing largely cleared the neighborhood known as Slab Town).

Here’s what that corner looks like today (Interstate 35 is to the right):

The area bounded by Michigan Street, 26th and 29th avenues West, and Helm Street / Interstate 35 was once home to dozens of homes. Clyde Iron Works and the Duluth Brewing & Malting Co. formed the southwest boundary of the neighborhood.

Today, all those homes are gone, replaced with commercial, industrial and government buildings. An entire street disappeared, too — Huron Street, which once ran in between and parallel to Michigan and Helm Streets.

Here’s an aerial view of the neighborhood from the Minnesota DNR, taken in 1948:

Clyde Iron Works and the Duluth Brewing & Malting Co. are at lower left; the bridge crossing the rail line at right is 27th Avenue West.

Back to the “haunted house” — it clearly had been vacant a long time when the photo was taken. It was listed as vacant in a city directory from 1954.

Here’s a zoomed-in view of that 1948 aerial photo — with a mark identifying what I believe to be the house:

So who were the Hochs? Zenith City Press reports that the Duluth Brewing & Malting Co. — just across the street — was founded by Reiner Hoch in 1895.

The house — even in its derelict state — certainly was grand by the otherwise-modest standards of that neighborhood. Given that, and given its location — it would make sense that it was the home of the owner of the brewery.

If you have any memories or information about the house or the long-vanished neighborhood, please post a comment.

6 Responses

  1. Todd Toner

    Hello my name is Todd Toner and my Great Grandfather Jan Lisiecki worked for Peoples Brewery in West Duluth along with Fitger’s. I have a picture of him fabricating barrels at one of those breweries. Does anyone know if Peoples was part of this organization or completely separate? Great house, to bad it is gone. At least many in Duluth survived.

  2. Lisa Hoch

    The Reiner Hoch mansion was built in 1897, and the article you are looking for is from the Duluth Sunday News-Tribune Feature Section dated March 3, 1963. Reiner’s son, Hugo, was my grandfather.

  3. Dean Hoch Peterson

    Shana, my great great grandfather was Reiner Hoch as well! I have been chasing down brewery memorabilia for years and have some history I could share with you.

  4. Erik Holmstrom

    I’m sure his story makes for great family history. It would be interesting to read more about the fate of the company (and the other brewing companies in Duluth once prohibition hit).

  5. Shana (Hoch) Schwan

    Super cool! This is my great, great, great, grandfather’s house. My nephew’s middle name is Reiner, named after Reiner Hoch. It’s too bad it’s not around anymore. It looked like a beautiful home! Prohibition really put a wrench in things back in the day. The “what ifs” get me thinking once in a while. Thanks for sharing this great piece of history from Duluth!

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