Historic Housing Project in Morley Heights

I am a journalism student at UMD, working on a story that involves Morley Heights, a neighborhood in East Duluth. I am curious to learn more about this neighborhood that was once constructed in Barksdale, Wis. Many of the homes were then moved to Duluth for employees working at the Marshall-Wells Company. It has been said that some of these homes were probably purchased from the DuPont Company at Barksdale and then each were floated across the lake to be re-constructed in Morley Heights. If someone has more information on this housing project or a connection with a potential source for my story, I would greatly appreciate it!

13 Comments

bud

about 9 years ago

Sears & Roebuck built a row of houses on Leicester back in the 1920s for its employees, decades before the store moved into the Miller Hill Mall. It used to be where the casino is now.

Gina

about 9 years ago

Check with Pat Maus at the NE Minnesota Historical Center, right in the UMD library. She has tons of archives, etc.

Gina

about 9 years ago

The Washburn (WI) Museum used to have a display about Barksdale and the homes in that area... I haven't been there in  years, though, so not sure what's there now. But that's how I learned that some homes still visible along Hwy 2 in that area are the original "company town" houses.

adam

about 9 years ago

Leicester?

Patricia Maus on the 2nd floor of the UMD library - NE MN Historical Center is a nice lady. If you get a chance, ask to look at the old alternative weekly, Wild Currents. Totally salacious 1970s Duluth/Superior material (contraceptives, GLBT, don't-pay-taxes-to-fund-the-war). Plus, as far as I know, first mention of the Co-op (ads, write-ups; "Will be going down to Minneapolis on June 02. Please write your orders on the note pad").

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

Below is a rough draft excerpt from X-comm's forthcoming "Lost Duluth" book, whose introduction discusses the development of Duluth townships and neighborhoods. There's not much more in our piece than you already have. Besides the wonderful Pat Maus at the NEMHC, try the spectacular reference librarians at the downtown Duluth Public Library. If there is more info to be found, it will likely be within a history of Marshall-Wells hardware. And whenever buildings are involved, the building inspector's office in City Hall has records of building, renovation, and demolition permits. City directors (at the DPL) also help identify which buildings stood at which addresses throughout the years.

By 1920 most of Duluth's major neighborhoods had taken shape. In 1920 a section of Oatmeal Hill was redeveloped as Morley Heights. Named for Albert Morely Marshall of Marshall-Wells Hardware—at the time the largest hardware manufacturer in the world—Morley Heights was created as a company community for employees of the Marshall-Wells hardware company. The DuPont company had some empty employee houses in Barksdale, Wisconsin. Marshall Wells purchased over eighty of them in 1919 and dragged them across a frozen Lake Superior and up Woodland Avenue to their new location during the winter of 1919 - 1920 [shipping method needs to be verified, as it seems unlikely that the lake would be frozen enough to do this]. The idea didn't go over very well with Marshall-Wells employees, however, and the neighborhood opened to anyone who wished to live there.

hbh1

about 9 years ago

Morley Heights was another streetcar suburb, but instead of land use restrictions on size of home and stuff like in Hunter's Park/Glen Avon, it was intended for the "working man" 

"This neighborhood was "not a "company town," since the city provided all utilities, Morley Heights was a housing development begun at the end of WWI by the Marshall-Wells Co. Albert Morley Marshall, for whom the area was named, founded in Duluth what became the largest wholesale hardware house in the United States in 1893. About 1919, the company, as part of a general profit-sharing and benefits plan, bought a large number of frame homes, including duplexes, from the Du Pont Company at Barksdale, Wisconsin. The houses were shipped knocked down on package freighters across the lake, hauled up the hillside and rebuilt along Spear Avenue and Morley Parkway where they were offered to company employees. Few company men bought the homes, finding similar or better housing elsewhere, but Morley Heights became a popular street car suburb for the city's clerks and skilled workers."  [Duluth's Legacy: Volume 1 Architecture/Scott]

hbh1

about 9 years ago

Jinx Tony D. :-)

Take out the quote before "This..."

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

Great stuff, HBH! I will be amending my Morley Heights passage.

Karasu

about 9 years ago

I grew up in two of them, and played in a few more as a kid. Nothing much to report about them as they're pretty average houses. Only the duplexes are similar. Our non-duplex seemed to have been made out of leftover scraps from all the rest of the houses in the neighborhood, since, when my parents opened up the kitchen wall to install a patio door, none of the stud-pieces was longer than 3 or 4 feet long.

Ron

about 9 years ago

I lived there in one of the houses for 22 years.  In my research I only found two books in the Duluth library that referenced the project.  Nither of them were clear on where the houses came from, but the were brought in by ship to the Marshal Wells dock on the lake.  (The remains of the dock are the concret structur in the lake next to canal park.)  They were then move up the hill on sleds during the winter of 1919/1920, reassembled and put on the market.  We did talk to an old guy that was walking in the neighborhood several years back and he grew up in our house.  His parents were one of the first to buy there.  Since at that time there were no trees or houses east of there, he could see all the way to the Lake near the Lester river with nothing inbetween.

adkin052

about 9 years ago

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this post! The LakeVoice is an online publication edited by the journalism students at UMD. The published article regarding Morley Heights is below. Please follow the link and check it out!

http://www.d.umn.edu/writ/jour/lakevoice/?p=4792

proch038

about 9 years ago

I am a UMD student that is renting in the neighborhood this year and it has been an amazing experience. The people are nice and it is a very family orientated atmosphere and the history that you uncovered definitely adds to my experience. I assumed the area was just like any other in Duluth because when we signed the lease our landlord told us the date the house was built but nothing more so I am glad to learn more. I moved in last summer before the park was renovated. After the new additions the park, times were rare that I looked out my window and saw the slides unattended. I am glad the neighbors have been so open to letting college students in after, what sounds like, a time of bad experiences. I know my house feels more like home than other rental houses I have visited and I will continue to enjoy all that Morley Heights has to offer.

Amanda

about 9 years ago

I grew up in one of the Dupont homes that remained in Washburn.  It was an amazingly built house.  The story we were told was that our house was the Dupont plant manager's home.  Great for parties and kids -- 7 bedrooms, large bathrooms, butler's pantry.  Loved it!

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