Mystery Picketers In Superior

I’m hoping you can provide some more information about a couple of photos I found in the News Tribune files of picket lines in Superior.

Both of these photos had dates written on the back – usually a sure-fire way of tracking down caption information. But I came up empty in my first try at searching the microfilm.

I’ll try to go back and take a closer look. But in the meantime, maybe one of you knows more about these photos.

Here’s the first, dated May 1967:

It’s clear from the signs that we’re on Hammond Avenue in Superior. I did some aerial photo and street view searching on Google, and by comparing houses I’m 99 percent sure this photo was taken at 11th and Hammond.

My guess is that Hammond was being converted into a much more major thoroughfare related to traffic coming off the Blatnik (or High) Bridge from Duluth, resulting in the loss of trees. Can anyone confirm that?


Here’s the second photo, dated June 1967:

I should note that I’m making an assumption that this was taken in Superior, because I’m assuming the signs the kids are carrying – which refer to “Blaine” – are about the former Blaine Elementary School on Belknap Avenue. That building is now home to the Blaine Business and Technology Center.

The signs refer to the County Board, to prisoners, and to the kids’ playground being taken away. Blaine School was sort of close to the Douglas County Courthouse and jail – are they protesting some jail expansion project that was going to take away a playground?  Can you identify the building they’re standing in front of? If you have any info, please post a comment.

On the subject of Blaine School, here are a couple bonus photos from the News Tribune archives:

Blaine School in Superior, December 2001. (Derek Neas / News-Tribune)


The new Blaine Business and Technology Center, formerly Blaine School in Superior, receives a striking front wall of reflective glass windows in August 2004. (Derek Neas / News Tribune)

25 Responses

  1. Tim Laberdie

    My father worked for the Parks & Rec department behind “Old City Hall” and he was on the tree
    removal crew that took down all those trees.The men got phone calls at home that accused
    THEM of wrecking the city`s beautiful parks as both Hammond & Grand avenues had nice
    boulevards that the kids played on both before and after school.

  2. marilyn

    My Dad was a mechanic for the city back in the 1950’s. I beleive he used to repair city vehicles in the basement of the old city hall building. Back then there were no guidelines for ventilation systems. He was so happy when they built the new city garage on Hill Ave.

  3. Sandy White Meredyk

    The Blaine Technology building was the office for the Board of Education, for which my mother, Delores White, was the Asst. Business Manager for many years. The Bd. of E. has since moved to Tower Av. where the Lakehead Pipeline used to be, when I worked there. As to Fred Johnson being insane, Jimmy J. and I can attest to the fact
    he was not ‘insane’ (we’re all related). He is now 90, living in AZ and recently won a gold medal for a swimming competition in his age group.

  4. Rick

    Hammond Avenue was originally a two lane street (one lane in each direction) with a wide boulevard with trees separating the traffic lanes. The Blatnik Bridge (High Bridge) was built in 1961. By 1967 it was felt that the boulevard on Hammond Avenue hampered the flow of traffic to and from the Bridge so the boulevard was removed to make Hammond Avenue a four lane.

    The protesters in front of the brown stone building are in front of City Hall and are protesting the removal of the playground at the site of the original Blaine elementary school at N 14th and Hughitt and Hammond. At the time there were plans to move city hall and the police department to a new building to be built on the playground site. The new city hall was to also house the Douglas County Sheriff department and the county jail. This actually did take place and the new building opened in 1971. That is the reason for the reference to prisoners vs playground.

  5. Arvo

    As always, thanks for the great memories. I’m really glad to see the recent mix including as much of Superior as Duluth.

    I think it would be fun to identify to those in the two upper photos — maybe just a first name and last initial. I think I only know one person in the upper photo, and I think I know two, and possibly three in the lower photo. I would have been a sophomore/junior at WSU/UWS at the time those photos were taken.

    I believe Blaine School was still in existence at the time of these photos. Oh, how times have changed for the better. Blaine lumped the extremely bright, but physically handicapped, with those who were physically able, but who could barely function mentally. As I recall, Mr. Axe was the principal there for many years. He was an incredibly understanding ambassador for the handicapped, and a wonderful person who looked at everyone with true respect.

    As for the police department, I thought that there were police offices on the second floor, up and inside the door shown in the second photo. I believe that is where the desks were for detectives like Alton Jacobson, Stanley Cyrs, and Fred Johnson (eventual electee who became Douglas County Sheriff in a little bit of controversy over Superior police corruption — and after the city had declared Fred insane).

    The house shown in the background is long gone. A big brick “city garage” was out back also, between the police building and behind that house. The “young” mayor Hagen (as opposed to his dad) moved the city garage out to Hill Ave. In those days, the police cars, garbage trucks, road graders, etc., were parked and maintained in the area in the back, and to the left in the photo.

    Good memories,

  6. Bob

    Tim B nailed it. I remember we kids making up petitions to “save old Blaine” as the playground was known.

    Growing up on 17th and Hammond, I remember playing on the large boulevards. In the winter, parents would make sled runs sprinkled with water to ice them up. that was early 50’s.

    fond memories…

  7. Mike Upthegrove

    As I recall, one of the reasons for removing the boulevards was to improve access for emergency vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances likely, especially in the winter.
    Mike U.

  8. Justme

    They may not be referring to the building most recently known as Blaine School on Belknap. I believe there was a Blaine High School which originally sat where Le Bistro now does, and perhaps that lot was also referred to as “Blaine?” If you search ‘Superior, WI’ on Ebay you can occasionally find post cards depicting that high school.

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  10. Jim Heffernan

    The protesters in the first photo are, indeed, protesting the removal of a wide, grassy median on Hammond. The children in the second photo are clearly standing on the corner of Broadway and Hammond, where the old Superior City Hall still stands. Most of those commenting identify it as the “police station.” Superior police headquarters was, indeed, there, but in the lower adjacent to the taller City Hall, just north on Hammond. The taller stone building, now shops and a coffee shop I think, was simply City Hall. Visited the building many times in the ’60s when I was a reporter. Today’s LeBistro Restaurant building replaced it as City Hall, and municipal jail. Now that’s been replaced, too.

  11. Justin

    The second picture was taken in front of the old city hall building at the corner of hammond avenue and 9th street, but I am not sure what they were protesting for

  12. Leandra

    The second picture looks like it was taken in front of the old police station on the corner of Hammond and Broadway. The building now houses various small businesses including Red Mug.

  13. Ann Charbonneau

    The picketers on Hammond Avenue are protesting the removal of the boulevards to widen the street and provide more lanes for traffic. There used to be beautiful boulevards throughout the city. I remember Hammond and Grand Avenues having them and playing on them when I was a child. They went down the center of the streets, were grass covered and trees were everywhere. One lane of traffic flowed on each side of the boulevards. Ahhh, I must be growing older, such fond memories of a simpler time.

  14. Boomer

    The building the kids are protesting outside of, is at Broadway and Hammond. Home of The Red Mug now. That building was originally the city police station.

  15. Loretta Peterson

    Please don’t quote me, but I think the building the kids are by is the old police building on the corner of Broadway and Hammond. It is now has art shops and a coffee shop. They may be protesting the new jail etc, because (my memory is not what it was) there was a playground there us kids would play baseball, tetherball, box hockey, etc.

  16. Meredith Kimberlin

    Cool photos. I’m going to see if I can find anything out on the Hammond issue.

    The kids are standing in front of what used to be the old City Hall on Hammond and Broadway. I’m assuming it has something to do with the summer playground program, but not sure. I think they may have had one at the Blaine School playground, which was later moved to Wade Bowl (park). Not sure what the “prison” connection is, though.

    1. Steve Rutkowski

      The ‘prison’ connection might be related to the fact that this building also housed the city (not county) jail at the time.

  17. Shawn

    The building that the picketeers are standing by, looks like the old superior police station that is located on the corner of broadway and hammond

  18. Sara Hall

    I grew up at 12th and Hammond and remember this time very well. My Mom even called the White House to try to get help in preventing the elimination of the boulevard. It was a mistake for sure. Turned what was a pretty street into a busy ugly one. I believe the photo of the kids was for the playground that turned into the jail complex. I even went to Blaine. Thanks for the memories!

  19. Tim Bouvine

    I believe the first photo is about the median on Hammond Avenue where a fairly wide swath of trees were positioned to divide the opposite lanes on Hammond Avenue. Went fairly long if I recall. The boulevard was an aesthetically attractive feature on Hammond.

    I believe the second one is protesting the elimination of park on the block of where now sits the LeBistro (I think) restaurant and was formerly the city building that housed some prisoners. Played at that ballpark many times and was a skating rink in the winter.

  20. That looks like the old Police station on Broadway & Hammond in Superior. You might want to check the pre-planning for the new (at that time) police station /county jail that was built between 14th and 15th on the west side of Hammond Ave. It has since been replaced by a bigger and grander government castle across the street. The kids were right on this subject.

  21. Michelle Asp

    I think the building in front of which the children are standing is on the corner of Broadway and Hammond; it currently houses the Red Mug (and several other businesses); the old Police Headquarters door is about 10 feet behind whomever took the photo. Hope that helps.

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