The Garrison Keiller in me thinks it should be “The Above Average Seal of the State of Minnesota.”
Folks, as you may know, the county has long wanted to tear down the historic St. Louis County Courthouse to create parking spaces. They are now pushing forward with those plans.
The jail is part of Duluth’s Civic Center, Duluth’s one-stop shop for some very impressive Classical/ Renaissance architecture. The center includes the St. Louis County Courthouse, Duluth City Hall, and the U.S. Federal Building-as well as the county jail, the Cass Gilbert-designed Soldiers & Sailors Monument (Fortitude Defending the Flag), and a fountain. The courthouse, which went up in 1909, was designed by famed architect Daniel H. Burnham, who among other accomplishments oversaw the entire design of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Abraham Olstead and William J. Sullivan designed the 1923 county jail, but did so in a manner in keeping with Burnham’s original idea and under Burnham’s direction. The gray granite building includes features such as Doric columns and lions heads. The jail is adorned with symbols of justice, including Roman fasces (a bundle of birch rods wrapped around an axe).
(The whole complex was part of the “City Beautiful” movement, a progressive reform movement of architecture and urban planning popular in the late 1890s and early twentieth century-it was thought that a beautiful city would create moral and civic virtue, people would behave, and the lives of inner-city poor would improve.)
The building is on the National Register of Historic Place and has been designated a Duluth Landmark property. Twice it has appeared on the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office’s “Ten Most Endangered Buildings” list.
Contrary to popular belief, the building can be successfully adapted for reuse, though it would be an expensive venture the county can’t afford. I know not everyone cares about saving our old buildings–and there are valid reasons the county has no more interest in maintaining the building. But to many like me, buildings such as the jail reflect our social and cultural heritage, and an effort should be made to at least attempt to sell the building to a party willing to invest in it–at the very least, demolition should only be discussed when all other options have been exhausted. They have not.
Technically, since the building has landmark status, the Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission (disclaimer: I sit on this commission) can do little else but deny any work on the building that does not meet it’s plan for renovation, and demolition does not fit the plan. Technically, the City Council can override the HPC, but only if the work on the building fits the Secretary of Interior’s standards for preservation projects, and again demolition does not fit such plans. But that does not mean it won’t happen.
If the future of this building matters to you and you want your voice heard on this issue, there will be a public hearing before the HPC at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 in the City Council Chambers in City Hall where you can speak your mind. Please attend.
And if you have some time tomorrow, at 2 p.m. folks are gathering at the Jail to show their support for the building. Please come.
Earth Hour is something that is going on March 28th. They just ask you to turn off the lights to your house from 8:30-9:30 p.m. as a way to ‘Vote Earth.’
I think this is a really cool initiative because last year about 50 million households/businesses participated in Earth Hour by shutting off their lights, and this year they hope to have 1 billion people participate!
I hope you all will join me for Earth Hour on 3/28/2009.
Do you all have any ideas on how to bring Earth Hour to Duluth. Sarah’s table is already serving candlelit dinners for the hour, so if you would like a romantic dinner. 😉 But if you all have any other ideas let me know!
This weekend I’ll be hanging drywall in my humble home, and there is a little compartment upstairs that will be sealed up for good (or, at least until the house is remodeled again or demolished. It was closed up for about 40 years before I got to it).
I’m going to get a shoebox-sized plastic container and create a time capsule to place in that little compartment.
Already slated for the capsule: a newspaper, a few coins, and some photos of the house and neighborhood.
Any suggestions on some small things to add that would be cool to find a few decades from now?
I am a UMD student and RA on campus and recently I have been working night and day to bring ‘Earth Hour’ to UMD and Duluth Minnesota! If you don’t know about ‘Earth Hour,’ basically it is a global initiative that asks citizens to turn off the lights of their homes/businesses from 8:30-9:30 p.m. on March 28th as a way to vote ‘Earth’. If you would like to learn more about ‘Earth Hour’ the official website is earthhour.org.
Ever wonder where all the streetcars went? A subsidiary of GM bought them, burned them and put in a few buses and sold them back to the city once they were finally destroyed.
Here is a streetcar map of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1933!
map from here
Taken for a Ride is a great documentary about this scandal.
William Zantzinger, the former tobacco farmer and property fraudster who “killed poor Hattie Carroll,” as Bob Dylan famously sang, died in disgraced obscurity on Jan. 3.
New York Times: W. D. Zantzinger, Subject of Dylan Song, Dies at 69.
The Lake Superior Zoo used to have a big slide, among other toys for the kiddies. I took a ride on it in the late 1970s with my big sister, as seen in this photo.
The zoo got rid of the amusement park stuff at some point in the early 1980s. Here’s a shot of the same perspective of Fairmount Park as it looks in 2009.