Select Images from Denfeld’s first Oracle

Before there was a school called Denfeld, high school classes in West Duluth were held at Irving School.

Irving opened in 1893, and the first high school classes held there were in 1905. It was sometimes called “Irving High School” or “West Duluth High School,” but the official name was Duluth Industrial High School. It wasn’t until 1915 that a new building was constructed, which was named after Robert E. Denfeld.

While still at Irving, the Duluth Industrial High School class of 1913 produced the first yearbook, the Oracle. Here are some select images.

This is the Oracle staff. Seated in the center is Earl W. Brooks, editor in chief. His nickname was “Budge.” His motto was “Just fifty girls for me.” (There were probably about 50 girls enrolled in the high school at the time. Note how the three girls in the group are surrounding ol’ Budge.)

The caption to this photo is “D.I.H.S. Rah! Rah! Rah!” This is probably not an official cheering squad, but rather just a shot of all the boys in the school having a little outdoor pep rally.

This is the “Sunshine Club,” which must have been some kind of philanthropic/social group at the school, although dancing, fighting and drinking all seem to be depicted in this photo.

This group is called the Commission. It’s not totally clear what they did, but there is a poem about them called “The First Commission” by Amelia Ration, class of 1914.

We demand a frank admission
That we are the best commission
That has ever trod our learned hall;
We are wise, discreet, judicious,
Noble, haughty, and officious,
With the “little Mayor” backing up us all.

In our conferences happy,
Where our wit is sane and snappy,
We discuss the crimes of every mate;
Then with countenances haughty
Descend upon the naughty,
And leave them to their grisly fate.

Crimes within our jurisdiction
We declare with sad conviction,
Must be dealt with according to the law;
Thus our legalized repression
Wrings from folks this bland confession:
“Tis the BEST Commission that we ever saw!”

This is the sophomore baseball team — “winners of the school championship.” There wasn’t an official team that played other schools, so the different classes had to play each other. It must have been quite an upset for the sophomores to defeat the upperclassmen.

Speaking of upperclassmen …

This photo is simply titled “Uniting the freshmen and sophomore classes.”

Fittingly, we clean this post up at the end with a photo of the janitors.



about 14 years ago

The original Denfeld High School was the building later known as the West Junior High School, now part of Laura MacArthur. It was built as a high school in 1914 and named for Robert E. Denfeld. The current Denfeld building replaced it as the high school in 1926.

Here's a photo of the original Denfeld High, which was connected to the Ely Elementary at that time. (Ely was torn down in 1957 to build the Laura MacArthur elementary.)

Original Denfeld High


about 14 years ago

Go Hunters. They are the best.


about 14 years ago

Wow, people really took the time to look polished back in the day, didn't they?  I feel like such a slob whenever I look at old pictures like's interesting how much the norm can change in less than a century.

Also, the Commission poem is awesome. They sound like fun.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Read previous post:
Fundraiser for Haiti foundation Sunday 6/6

Haiti Worthy Cause Event Supporting the Kako Foundation Music/storytelling/Caribbean food Sunday, June 6, 2010 | 3 p.m. Chester Park United...