Duluth Children’s Museum latest to buy into Lincoln Park
Add a museum to the list of new attractions and amenities planned for Duluth’s booming Lincoln Park neighborhood. Duluth Children’s Museum purchased the former Randy’s Café building at 2125 W. Superior St. in Lincoln Park March 18. Minnesota Department of Revenue records show longtime building owners Michael and Rochelle Delich of Superior sold the property for $345,000.
Lincoln Park Café, the most recent restaurant at the address, closed its doors in February.
Duluth Children’s Museum President and CEO Cameron Kruger confirmed the sale earlier this week and said the new address will play a big role in future museum plans.
“There’s a lot of potential in that building and we’re really looking forward to putting together a plan for it,” he said. “Initially we’ll be using it for office and storage space, so nothing exciting will be happening there in the near future.”
Duluth Children’s Museum currently leases space in the former engine room of the Clyde Iron Works complex at 115 S. 29th Ave. W. just off I-35. The museum moved to the space six years ago after a long run as an original tenant in the remodeled Duluth Depot.
Kruger said the Children’s Museum and its board of directors are in the early stages of discussing a capital campaign. The campaign would finance a major building remodel for the Lincoln Park property.
“We know there’s a number of capital campaigns going on in the area right now,” he said. “We’re early in the process so it will be awhile before we’re ready to introduce our own.”
The newly acquired Lincoln Park building offers a basement and two upper levels with a total of 13,000 square feet — or 4,000 square feet more than existing museum space at Clyde Iron. The museum will own the building rather than lease, and will find itself in the middle of a growing, revitalized neighborhood.
“It’s really exciting, the momentum that’s happening in the neighborhood,” said Kruger, who has worked closely with the Lincoln Park business community. “That’s where things are up and coming in Duluth and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Kruger said the Superior Street address also brings the museum closer to the families it serves. He said many Children’s Museum patrons live in Lincoln Park and will find it easier to access programs. The Superior Street bus line passes the building and a recent Minnesota Department of Transportation Hwy. 53 reconstruction plan maintains the viaduct over Superior Street ensuring ample parking.
Duluth Children’s Museum was established in 1930 by Mabel McKinney Wing and is the fifth-oldest museum of its kind in the United States. Originally located in the Salter School, the museum moved into the Chisholm house at 1832 E. Second St. and was renamed the A.M. Chisholm Museum in 1954. It moved into the Duluth Depot in 1975 and reclaimed its original name in 1994.
Kruger said the museum has evolved from a collection of historic children’s artifacts and toys to offering a wide range of youth programs and activities. He said modern children’s museums are now adding active play areas for patrons.
“We want to do a build out that would include a cool, new building experience,” he said. “We’re looking at two or three story climeables, something that could certainly be done in that building.”
The property at 2125 W. Superior St. has been owned by the Delich family for almost 40 years. Shelly Delich said she was pleased to learn the Children’s Museum was interested in buying the building.
“We’re really excited to see what they do with it,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great addition to the neighborhood and I think the people who use the Children’s Museum are really going to like it.”
Delich said the revitalized Lincoln Park — with its new shops and cafés — offers museum parents options.
“They can go to all kinds of places while they’re waiting for their kids to finish a program,” she said. ”There’s so much going on down there now, it’s really been great to see.”
The Deliches purchased the building in the 1970s. It was home to a Bridgeman’s restaurant and ice cream parlor at the time but has had a long and varied history. Shelly Delich said she still has the original deed.
“They don’t give them to you anymore,” she said. “I wanted to look up the history for them.”
The building sits on property that was platted in the early 19th Century. The first recorded business on the site was a haberdashery. Over the years it has served as an office building and a social hall before Bridgeman’s established a restaurant. Delich said the upper floor is a former gymnasium that currently houses a boxing club.
Michael and Shelly Delich operated a restaurant called 21st Delight on the site until the mid-1980s, then leased it out to a series of other café and restaurant operators. Randy’s Café closed in the summer of 2017 after a nearly 10-year run and the Deliches reopened the restaurant as the Lincoln Park Café in 2018.
“We were worried they were going to take it down for this project that they’re doing on the Can of Worms,” said Shelly Delich, referring to the I-35 Twin Ports Interchange Project. “I’m glad they didn’t. The place adds so much to the character of the neighborhood and now it can be reused as a children’s museum. We’re really happy that it’s going to continue on.”
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