Early vision for the DECC, 1962

May 23, 1962

The previous post featured photos from the opening of the Arena-Auditorium (later the DECC) in 1966.

Also found in those files was this photo, which ran in the News-Tribune on May 23, 1962, showing an early vision for the arena-auditorium complex:

Examining a model of Duluth’s proposed arena-auditorium building complex and site are George Barnum Jr., left, finance chairman of the Citizens Advisory Arena-Auditorium Committee, and William S. Johnson, site chairman. Johnson built the model, which will be on displaay at a committee meeting tonight. (Earl Johnson / News-Tribune)

So this model was home-built, and not a professionally designed concept. I’m assuming Mr. Johnson constructed it to spur further discussion about the project. Here’s a close-up look:

The proposed arena is the large building with the spiky features sticking out the top. To the left are buildings labeled "auditorium" and "little theater."


The photo is taken in an office located in a building, if I had to take a guess, somewhere around the corner of Superior Street and Fifth Avenue West. But I’m not sure. There are a few clues visible in the background, including this hotel sign (it kind of looks like the one on the Holland Hotel in this post:


Also visible, a sign for the "Dutch Coffee Room" (there may be another word, not visible, before Dutch):

I tried to find "Dutch Coffee Room in a 1961 city directory, with no luck.

Can any of you figure out where this photo was taken? Post a comment if you know.

– Andrew Krueger

Irving Moore Memorial Building


This view of downtown Duluth from 1966 shows Superior Street looking west from Third Avenue West:

The Alworth Building is at left (the Lonsdale Building on the corner, with which it now shares a lower-level facade, it out of the frame). The Torrey and Medical Arts buildings are down the street. But in between is a little building with Ionic columns and a sign reading: "Irving Moore Memorial":

That building is gone today, or at least reduced in size; the present building on that site is only two stories.

Some searching in the News Tribune archives and on Google turned up virtually nothing on "Irving Moore Memorial," or "Irving Moore" for that matter. So… can anyone out there fill in the blanks? Who was Irving Moore, and what happened to that building?

Please post a comment if you have information.

– Andrew Krueger

Duluth’s Bowery, 1950s


This undated photo of Superior Street, at the west end of downtown Duluth, is captioned "Old Bowery in Duluth" in the News Tribune files.

Most of the buildings in this view were demolished in the late 1950s and early 1960s as part of the Gateway redevelopment project, and the cars suggest a date in the early to mid-1950s. Among the few buildings in the photo to survive today is the Duluth Bethel building, located up on the hill at 1st and Mesaba.

Looking back at Superior Street, the photo was probably taken from up in the Medical Arts Building. The roof of the Spalding Hotel is visible at lower left, and the Lyceum Theater building is at lower right. Next to the Lyceum, across Fifth Avenue West, is the Holland Hotel. Other hotels visible along the "Bowery" include the Hill Hotel and the Hotel Liberty. The term "Bowery," by the way, refers to the street of that name in New York – and its reputation as a stretch of cheap hotels and dive bars.

Here are a few zoomed-in views from the photo:

Hill Hotel and ad for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum


Hotel Liberty (rooms 75 cents and up), M&C gas station and Blatz beer sign


Billboards for Conoco gasoline and Blatz, "Milwaukee’s Finest Beer"


Billboard on the hillside for Master Bread – "Fresh as a daisy!"


Duluth Bethel building – note the three big homes in front that once stood where Mesaba Avenue runs today.


Do you have any memories of Duluth’s "Bowery"? Post a comment.

– Andrew Krueger

Sixth Avenue West viaduct, 1966

June 22, 1966

Sixth Avenue West viaduct and downtown Duluth, June 22, 1966. (Charles Curtis / Duluth Herald)

This viaduct didn’t have long to live at the time this photo was taken. Within a couple years, demolition work would begin as the railyards began their several-decades-long transition to today’s Interstate 35, among other projects. There’s a lot to see in this photo by zooming in, including:

The North Star Marine pilot service building.


A "clear-cut" few blocks where buildings have been razed for the Gateway redevelopment project. The News Tribune building stands just below City Hall on the right side of this view, on the edge of the construction along Fifth Avenue West.


Passenger cars waiting in the rail yards.


A car hiding under the viaduct, and a welcome sign of some kind on which the rest of the text is just barely unreadable.


The viaduct started coming down in late 1967, starting with the ramp that led down to lower Fifth Avenue West (which had its own, more modern viaduct):

A shovel begins the task of demolishing the viaduct from Fifth to Sixth avenues West on December 13, 1967. (News-Tribune file photo)


The main viaduct structure came down in 1968, as seen in this photo:


Here are some past Attic entries on Twin Ports bridges:

Arrowhead Bridge

Interstate Bridge

Lake Avenue Bridge

Share your memories of the Sixth Avenue West viaduct, the railyards or anything else in these photos by posting a comment.

– Andrew Krueger

Sidewalk Days, now on bricks

Today, the bargain-hunters will graze one last time through the offerings of Duluth’s Sidewalk Days, featuring three days of deals, music and food all along Superior Street.

I’m not sure when the event got its start, but according to our archives, vendors have been setting up shop since at least since 1982. A look at some of the old photos reveals that Superior Street has changed significantly since then. And I’m not just talking about the storefronts. 

Below is a photo from Sidwalk Days in 1984. Notice the bricks that are absent from the surface of Superior Street; it was just plain old asphalt then.

Sidewalk Days in downtown Duluth in 1984. In the foreground, 
a German band provides entertainment.

The Greater Downtown Council was formed in 1984 to help breathe life into the downtown area. The group’s plan included repaving the streets with brick to make the area more welcoming to pedestrians.

In this photo from July 24, 1985, Sidewalk Days was nearly rained out, the problem made worse by the construction going on along Superior Street. I’m guessing this is when the brick-paving project began.

By July 1989, Sidewalk Days shoppers hungry for deals strolled along a brick-laden street.



In 1982, Little Nicholas Lombardi gets into the spirit of scrounging for bargains and dives into a 10-cent box of books. He chooses a romance novel. 


A possible conversation that may have transpired between this couple while shopping during Sidewalk Days in 1986:

"What do you think of this shirt here, Marge?" 

"Oh, I don’t know, Henry. Vertical stripes don’t suit you and it might be tough to iron out them wrinkles."

I invite you to comment and come up with your own dialogue.


Video Vision, 1983

Nov. 23, 1983


Here’s a photo from outside Video Vision at 122 West First Street in Duluth. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

In 1983, Video Vision occupied the space at 122 W. First St. in Duluth. The photo was shot on a Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The building is currently home to Anchors End Tattoo & Body.

The poster on the bottom of the middle window is for a movie called "Lone Wolf McQuade," starring martial arts legend and pop-culture phenomenon Chuck Norris as J.J. McQuade, who, as ones writer on the Internet Movie Database Web site describes, is "an archetypical renegade Texas Ranger [who] wages war against a drug kingpin [David Carradine] with automatic weapons, his wits and martial arts after a gun battle leaves his partner dead. All of this inevitably culminates [in] a martial arts showdown between the drug lord and the ranger, and involving the woman they both love."

There’s no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends than with turkey, football and a Chuck Norris movie. After this year’s dinner and inevitable Detroit Lions loss, it’s straight to the "Delta Force" VHS tape for me.


A poster for the movie "Breathless," starring Richard Gere, sits above the Norris poster. At right is a poster for "Blue Thunder," starring the late Roy Scheider of "JAWS" fame.



Behind the Video Vision sign, the faded letters "MU" can be seen on the left. The "122" of the street address also is visible. Does anyone know what business with the faded sign used to occupy this building before 1983? Did the "M" and partial "U" stand for "MUSIC"?


This place either sold Playboy magazines, rented Playboy videos or both.

Glass Block coffee shop, 1969

May 15, 1969

Glass Block was a pillar of commerce in downtown Duluth for decades, and in 1969 the venerable department store underwent major renovations. When they were complete, the News Tribune was on hand to document the changes.

The store’s newly remodeled restaurant is featured in the photo above from May of that year. At lower left, patrons (left to right) Gladys Archambault, Clara Hexum and Francis Brandenburg enjoy a coffee break. To the right, restaurant manager Agnes Goff keeps a watchful eye on the operation.

Goff managed the restaurant from 1955 to 1978, according to her obituary in the News Tribune. She died in 2003 at age 90.

The downtown Glass Block store, located at 128-132 W. Superior St., closed in 1981. The building — which had housed the store since 1892 — was razed to make way for what is now the US Bank building at the corner of Superior Street and Second Avenue West.

A second Glass Block store opened in the Miller Hill Mall in 1973. The Glass Block name lingered on at that location until fall 1998, when it was sold and converted into the present-day Younkers store.

Interestingly, the number you would have used to call Ms. Goff at the Glass Block in 1969 — 722-8311 — still is the phone number in use by Younkers at the Miller Hill Mall.

The Glass Block has been featured in several other News Tribune Attic posts: here, here and here.


Here is one more photo from that 1969 remodeling project:

White leather shoes are on special for $8.90:

And, in the background is the Closet Shop:

Superior Street, 1977

April 30, 1977

Traffic on Superior Street, April 30, 1977. (News-Tribune file photo)

Here is a zoomed-in view showing some of the businesses in this view looking east, including Snyder’s Rexall Drugs (Snyder’s Rexall…. weren’t they competing chains?), Maurice’s, Martin’s and Oreck’s:

Freimuth’s Department Store closes, 1961

October 18, 1961

Freimuth’s Department store at the corner of Superior Street and Lake Avenue in downtown Duluth, circa 1960. (News-Tribune file photo)

Freimuth’s to quit business today

Duluth Herald, October 18, 1961

Freimuth’s Department Store, Duluth’s oldest family-owned firm, will go out of business at 5:15 p.m. today.

J.J. Mickelson, Minneapolis, court-appointed trustee of the financially troubled store, ordered the closing. He said he had no alternative.

The store went into bankruptcy Monday after a reorganization plan, worked out by the U.S. District Court and the referee in bankruptcy in Minneapolis, failed to restore the firm’s financial footing.

Edgar Freimuth, president of Freimuth’s, at 2 W. Superior St., said his 60 employees did not learn of their job losses until Tuesday. He told them as soon as he learned of the decision, he said.

Freimuth’s was founded in 1883 by the present president’s grandfather, I. Freimuth, as a general store, and was moved to its present location in 1900 from 119 W. Superior St.

Freimuth said another 40 persons are employed in leased departments which "will remain open at least temporarily." The leased departments are Gift House Stamps, furniture, beauty shop, a post office sub-station, millinery, watches and jewelry, downtown ticket office, restaurant and shoe repair.

Freimuth said he "explored every possible course of keeping the store operating." …

"I had no alternative but to order the closing," Mickelson said. "The reorganization plan failed. If the people of Duluth were interested in keeping Freimuth’s open they should have supplied the necessary capital." …

Mickelson said he will come to Duluth and make arrangements for a complete inventory of the stock. Then he will decide whether to sell the inventory in bulk "or to someone who wants to operate a department store," he said.


Freimuth’s was located on the site of what is now an open plaza next to the Minnesota Power building, where the city Christmas tree is displayed each year.

After the department store closed, the building – known as the Fowler Building – sat largely vacant for several years. It was acquired, along with the neighboring Fidelity Building, in 1968 by a group called Duluth Downtown Properties Inc., and was razed in April of that year (more on that below).

In November 1968, the News-Tribune reported that the group wanted to remodel the Fidelity Building "for use as a motor hotel of about 100 units. It would be in conjunction with a parking ramp and retail shops to be constructed on the site of the Freimuth Building."

Obviously, that didn’t happen. From what I can tell, the site sat empty until the Minnesota Power complex went in…. but if anyone out there knows more and can fill in the gaps, please post a comment.


The photo above has some nice detail. Here are some zoomed-in views.

Looking south down Lake Avenue, there is the railing of the bridge over Michigan Street, then the Metropole Hotel building. Among the other signs just visible are one for Joe Huie’s Cafe, and one for Old Bohemian beer:

Here is a look at the busy Superior Street facade of Freimuth’s:

Next door to the Freimuth’s building was the Fidelity Building, housing – at this time – what appears to be the Kelley-Duluth hardware store (the sign is a bit hard to read). Beyond that to the west, it looks like there was a furniture store:


Here is another photo of Freimuth’s, from August 4, 1959, showing a window display that must have been celebrating the new St. Lawrence Seaway:

In the background, behind the people looking in the window, is a building with a "Diamonds" sign on it, so I’m guessing it housed a jewelry store. It appears that it’s located where the Tech Village complex is today. Anyone have more information?


As mentioned earlier, the Freimuth’s / Fowler Building came down in April 1968. Here are a couple photos of the demolition, both from April 16, 1968:

Razing of the Freimuth Building in Duluth began Monday, attracting the attentionof pedestrians on the Lake Avenue viaduct sidewalk. Demolition of the building by Earth Movers of Duluth, Inc., is on contract to Duluth Downtown Properties Inc. The latter corporation is razing the structure for possible development of a retail store, parking ramp and motel complex. (News-Tribune file photo)

Visible in the photo above is an entrance to Joe Huie’s Cafe and the Metropole Bar:

Here is the second razing photo:

The Freimuth Building, long an important part of the Duluth business community, is being razed for possible development of a retail store, parking ramp and motel complex. (Duluth Herald file photo)

Visible in this photo are a Fitger’s beer sign along Michigan Street behind the crane, and in the far, far background is a very early Skywalk "bridge" over Michiagn Street – I think that’s the one out the back of what is now Wells Fargo Bank:


Finally, here is the last Freimuth’s image from the archives – an undated artist’s concept for what probably would have been a major renovation, rather than a replacement, of the Freimuth’s Building:

This would probably date to 1955-1960; judging from the financial difficulties the store faced in 1961, I don’t think they would have been planning such major work anytime after 1960.


So that’s everything about Freimuth’s in the Attic’s clipping and photo files… and I’m exhausted. I’ve been going at a whirlwind pace on posting the past couple months. I’m going to scale back just a bit in frequency of posting for a while; we’ll see you back here in a few days.

Tearing down the Bradley Building, 1979

December 3, 1979

The wrecker’s ball is pulverizing the four-story Bradley Building at the southeast corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street to clear the way for realignment of Lake Avenue South and eastward extension of the I-35 freeway. The rear of the building is being demolished but the front portion will remain standing until early January to minimize traffic interruption. (Karl Jaros / Duluth Herald)

The Bradley Building was included at the end of an earlier News Tribune Attic post on Famous Clothing. At one time it was the home of KDAL radio and television. At the time of its demolition it also was known as the Compudata Building – I presume that must have been the last tenant.

Here is another photo of its demolition, from November 23, 1979:

Work crews began last week to tear down the Compudata-Bradley Building at 10 E. Superior St. Here, a worker dismantles a brick wall by hand, because the adjacent building, which houses Famous Clothing, will remain standing. The work is the first demolition in the long-delayed Interstate 35 extension from Mesaba Avenue to 10th Avenue East. The structure is one of four to be razed for realignment of Lake Avenue South as part of the freeway project. During the demolition, which will cost $280,000, pedestrian access will be blocked along Superior and Michigan streets near the building and car traffic along Michigan Street will be reduced to one lane. (Karl Jaros / News-Tribune)