Calling All Traphagen Nerds!

ZCA_Bio_TraphagenO_001_DPL.jpgSince I am moderately obsessed with local history, I decided start up a project on Duluth architect Oliver Traphagen. While the Internet is great, I am looking for more perspectives on the man as well as some information on his personal life and ideals. If you want to share your knowledge then please contact me: romen021 @



about 12 years ago

Start with Tony Dierckins a great resource and what he can't provide he knows where it can be found.

Tony D.

about 12 years ago

Thanks for the plugs, Paul and John.

If you are going to write about Traphagen, you just about have to include George Wirth (Traphagen's first boss in Duluth), Francis Fitzpatrick (his partner in the early 1890s), and Frederick German, another great Duluth architect who cut his teeth working as a draftsman for Traphagen & Fitzpatrick.

Duluth's expert on Traphagen is Maryanne C. Norton, my cauthor on "Lost Duluth" (the book is full of lost Traphagen and Wirth buildings). You can find her most weekdays at the Duluth Public Library in the North Shore room, where she volunteers. Duluth's reference librarians know a lot about Duluth history as well. It turns out that libraries are great places to do research....


about 12 years ago

If you want some up close and personal research, too, swing by HTK (the Oliver G. Traphagen House) anytime.

Mike Scholtz

about 12 years ago

It's true. HTK is a Traphagenhaven.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

You should shorten that up to "Traphaven," Mike. It's a fun word; it sort of suggests you are being held against your will at a serene refuge. 

If there's ever a need to expand HTK and move to a larger office space, Redstone could be converted into an "against-your-will bed and breakfast" called Traphaven. The proprietors would kidnap people and treat them to a relaxing and luxurious weekend.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

By the way, I forgot there is a Traphagen bio at the bottom of the HTK page about Redstone. I think I wrote it -- or compiled a version of it, or something -- back in 2003:

Oliver G. Traphagen Sept. 3, 1854-Oct. 21, 1932 Duluth's most renowned architect, Oliver G. Traphagen, was born in Tarry Town, New York. His parents moved to Wisconsin and eventually to St. Paul during his youth. He was not formally educated in architecture, but instead moved up from carpenter to contractor to architect through experience as an apprentice of noted architect George Wirth. He came from St. Paul to Duluth in 1881 and soon began designing both private residences and commercial buildings. He worked alone until 1885, when he formed a partnership with his mentor, Wirth. He went back to working alone in 1886. In 1890, Traphagen invited Minneapolis architect Francis Fitzpatrick to partner with him in Duluth. One of the early buildings they worked on together was the Redstone. Traphagen had lived in the Merchants Hotel (which he had designed) since around 1884. He married Amelia (maiden name unknown) in 1891 and began building his home that year. Alone, and together with Fitzpatrick, Traphagen designed a majority of Duluth's finest buildings, many of which are still standing today. His partnership with Fitzpatrick ended in 1896, when Fitzpatrick moved to Washington, D.C. Traphagen also moved that year, to Honolulu, Hawaii. His daughter was ill and needed to live in a warmer climate. Traphagen continued to work as an architect in Honolulu, designing the famous Moana Beach Club, the first tourist hotel on Waikiki Beach. In 1907, he moved to Alameda, California. He retired there around 1925, and died seven years later.


about 12 years ago

The bio above states that his wife's maiden name is unknown.  From a quick search on a genealogy site, it appears to have been Regelsberger.


about 12 years ago

I think my project's new working title is now going to be "Traphaven." It is simply great.


about 12 years ago

There is national interest in Oliver Traphagen, and I believe a "society" of Traphagen de-vote-tees.

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