Duluth’s Old City Hall to become boutique hotel

Duluth restaurant and hospitality company Just Take Action is in the process of converting Duluth’s Old City Hall into a 13-room hotel with four hostel rooms and a Roaring Twenties theme.

The building at 132 E. Superior St. was designed by Duluth’s foremost architect, Oliver Traphagen, and served as Duluth City Hall from 1888 to 1929. It contains three businesses that will continue to operate there — Wasabi Japanese Cuisine, the Rathskellar speakeasy and Evolve Duluth Yoga & Fitness.

It’s the second boutique hotel for Just Take Action. Endion Station Inn, a former railroad depot, was converted from a beer and cider house to a waterfront hotel in 2019.

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Paul Lundgren

about 4 months ago

The hotel will be named the Oliver Inn according to a May 18 news release from Just Take Action.

The Romanesque Revival-style building was designed by renowned architect Oliver G. Traphagen in 1889 and was originally home to Duluth’s City Hall and later, the Salvation Army. The hotel has been named to honor the architect, and its rooms will pay homage to historical Duluth figures, such as Duluth Mayor Samuel Snively and suffragette Sarah Burger Stearns. The design for the 13-bedroom boutique hotel was inspired by Duluth’s rich and storied past as one of the world’s busiest port cities in the early 1900s. The interior blends the glamour and drama of eras gone by with a fresh, bright aesthetic. The renovation preserves the historic elements of this significant building, retaining much of its original character as the booming city’s seat of government. The hotel’s interior designer, Katrina Pierson, says: “The Oliver Inn will be unlike any other hotel in the region. Our aim with the design was really to maintain traces of the past and a respect for this beautiful historic building while animating its history with bright, contemporary pieces. We want our guests to feel a sense of curiosity and complete comfort, like walking into the old home of a well-traveled friend.” The top two floors of the Oliver Inn will offer guests a more luxurious space, while the lower level will provide affordable hostel-style accommodations for visitors on a budget. A Scandinavian-style sauna, hot yoga studio, Wasabi Japanese restaurant, and a subterranean speakeasy, the Rathskeller, will add to the guest experience. “We can’t wait to open our doors to you at The Oliver Inn, and we’d love for you to be a part of creating it as we add the finishing touches. If you know some unique history about significant Duluthians or the Old City Hall building, we’d love to hear from you,” says owner Rod Raymond. The hotel is set to open mid-summer.

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