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History Posts

History of Itasca: Part 1

itascaLilah Crowe, executive director at Itasca County Historical Society, talks about the rich native history of Itasca County in the first of a four-part presentation.

Video produced by A Plus B Productions.

Wild West Liquor Mural, 1996

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This photo is dated Dec. 5, 1996. It’s a shot of the exterior mural on the parking lot side of the former Wild West Liquor, 318 N. Central Ave. in West Duluth.

At the time it was probably a fairly new mural; the liquor store changed its name from West Duluth Liquor to Wild West Liquor at some point in the mid 1990s. I don’t remember when the mural was painted over, but I’d guess the side of the building has been plain white for at least ten years. The liquor store closed in 2015.

The building is presently being remodeled to open as Zenith Bookstore in summer 2017.

Thrift Store Finds: Last Ride on the Incline

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I’m teaching a class that emphasizes writing about place next semester. So I’ve been scrounging thrift stores for examples. Here’s one to share. Is there a copyright-awesome way to secure these old magazines online?

All Star Wrestling – Duluth Auditorium – Dec. 4, 1986

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The American Wrestling Association brought some of its finest grapplers to Duluth 30 years ago, as the newspaper ad above attests. It was six months before the World Wrestling Federation juggernaut brought a series of shows to the Duluth Arena. The AWA, of course, was a smaller promotion and held its card in the Duluth Auditorium, with the ring placed on the stage the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra typically occupies.

Duluth’s Hamilton Hotel

While doing some family research I found a 1927 directory listing for my great grandmother. It showed she worked as a maid at the Hamilton Hotel in Duluth. I can’t find any info regarding this hotel. Every time and everywhere I search it comes up with Hampton Inns or Hamilton Hotels (modern). I’m curious if anyone has any information regarding the history and location.

Gold Star Men of West Duluth: An Inventory of Memorial Park Veterans Markers

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As noted in the Perfect Duluth Day story “Planners take another look at West Duluth’s Memorial Park,” a majority of the bronze plates memorializing West Duluth servicemen who died in World War I are either missing or damaged. Above are images of some of the more deteriorated and/or vandalized markers. Of the original 22, just seven remain in place and in good condition.

The markers were planted under trees in 1928 and read: “This tree planted in memory of (name) killed (date) for God and country.”

Derelict West Duluth church bites dust

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Demolition of the former West Duluth Baptist Church at 5907 Grand Ave. is underway. In August the Duluth City Council unanimously approved the plan to tear down the structure, built in 1938.

Duluth Square Dance Association Shindig 1976

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This clip is from the Sept. 10, 1976, Duluth News-Tribune; photo by Joey McLeister.

Duluth Square Dance Association members let it all out as they prepare for participation in Shindig 1976–Duluth, the third annual square and round dance festival fast becoming a traditional event in the city. Dancing times are from 7:30 to 11:45 p.m. today in the Duluth Arena, and the action continues from 9 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Spectators are welcome and there is no charge.

Mystery Photo #47: The Science Museum

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The Science Museum of Minnesota moved out of the St. Paul Auditorium and into the Merriam Mansion on Capitol Hill in 1927. It remained there until 1964, when it moved into the St. Paul-Ramsey Arts and Sciences Center. The final move came in 1999, when a new facility opened adjacent to the Mississippi River.

Mystery Photo #46: Duluth-area Bowling Alley

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From the depths of my wife’s closet comes this old photo from her family collection, presumably shot at a Duluth-area bowling alley roughly 50 or 60 years ago. Since we’re talking about a West Duluth family, Stadium Lanes would be the number one contender. Whatever bowling alley it is, it’s likely to have been remodeled and then closed since this photo was taken, so this might be a tough solve.

Edmund Fitzgerald

I missed posting this by two days, but it’s still worth a look.

Coolerator: Acclaimed in Hollywood, built in Duluth

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The Coolerator Company manufactured refrigerators and sold them in every state and 74 foreign nations. It began in 1908 as the Duluth Showcase Company, a manufacturer of store fixtures in Downtown Duluth. Operations moved to 50th Avenue West and Wadena Street in 1921. The focus switched to iceboxes in 1928 and the business was renamed Duluth Refrigerator Company. It became the Coolerator Company in 1932 and opened a manufacturing plant in New Duluth.

Woven into the tapestry of an old home

shawna-betterRecently a reporter came a calling, and we had to prepare our house for a photojournalist in just four short days. In the process I achieved a lifelong goal of being clutter-free, and became a better steward of our century-old home that has had only four owners over a breathtaking sweep of history. This place has housed a U.S. Senator, and also Richard Gastler, the beloved Denfeld teacher.

When we moved in we bought the eyesore on the block, because it was all we could afford, and have grown to cherish it as we make a large portion of our living between these four walls. I jotted down some thoughts over at Ed’s Big Adventure, and you can take a look-see at Christa Lawler’s marvelous column here about my daydreaming wife, who is cranking out another amazing painting at this very moment.

Downtown Duluth – Looking east on Superior Street

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Readable business signs: Boyce Drugs, (?)ornser Hats, Bagley Jewelers, City National Bank and Miller’s Cafeteria.

Video Archive: Duluth East mid-1960s Film

A previous Video Archive segment featured a 1956 film from the Mark Bruzonsky collection. This time we skip ahead to the mid-1960s and his years at Duluth East High School.