Duluth Central High

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The title should read Duluth Central High and Firehouse Number One. I decided to include the firehouse in this post because the two buildings are located at opposite corners of the intersection of First Avenue and Third Street in Duluth. The firehouse ended up in a picture I took of the school and you know how it goes with door fans, we have to investigate.

The information listed below was taken from the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP) nomination forms for the buildings. Let’s start with the high school.

Old Central is a very fine example of that traditionally rich architectural style known as Romanesque and is certainly the most outstanding structure of its kind to be found in northern Minnesota. The facade and tower present a totally pleasing design width exceptionally beautiful proportion and line. The vertical fenestration and tower are exceptionally well studied wherein particular consideration was taken due to the fact that the viewer would at all times be standing considerably below the building, resulting in a foreshortening of the verticals. Expert attention was also paid to the scale of the building. This was perfected in part through belt coursing and rustication bf the beautiful stonework. The building, too, is skillfully sited on a full city block of hillside property of considerable slope.

The building is made of Lake Superior Brownstone. The rounded arches of the entrance are repeated in rows of windows, and in the large stone wall dormers, and on the clock tower, with its huge, illuminated glass dials.

NRHP Nomination Form No. 72001488

The firehouse was erected by the City of Duluth in 1889 in a modified Romanesque style. The two-and one-half story red brick and sandstone building measures fifty feet long by ninety feet wide with walls extending thirty feet high.

The Third Street facade and the First Avenue East side elevation door and window openings are uniform and balanced. All window and door openings are Romanesque style arches, except for the three attic windows on the front facade. On this facade the voussoir arches are composed of sandstone on the first floor and brick on the second. Sculptured capitals on the pilasters are located on the first floor (see photographic detail of the entrance). On the second floor is a loggia with a projecting elliptical balcony and wrought iron railing. The triangular portions above the second-floor loggia have sculptured panels depicting crossed fire horns. A corbelled brick cornice is surmounted by a brick parapet finishing the top of the building and the central bay of the front facade projects slightly outward from the front elevation.

NRHP Nomination Form No. 75002089

If your want to take a virtual tour of the clock tour, you can follow this link.

Thanks for visiting this post. I hope you enjoy the gallery and I hope you will visit some of the doors that are linked to in the comments.

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  1. I did not know anything about Lake Superior Brownstone, Dan. You had me scurrying over the intervener to find out more information. I found that Lake Superior sandstone is highly prized for it beauty and toughness. But what was even more interesting that this particular sandstone endure temperatures to 800° F before cracking or crumbling. A great post – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t able to find where the design for the clock tower was inspired, but the chimes mimic those at Westminster. I was surprised to see the tower on a school, but it is a beautiful feature.

      You brought us a beautiful feature today as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. When I got to the top of the hill and saw the firehouse, I knew I had to include it with he school. They’ve been neighbors for about 125 years, and from what I read, they are both going to be repurposed and well maintained into the future.

      Your open doors today offer us a beautiful scene.


    • I’m so glad you like these, Gwen. Every time I turned a corner, it seemed that school had more to offer. Then, when I got to the top of the hill and saw the firehouse, I knew I had to put them together.

      I hope you also have a great weekend.


    • Thanks Robbie. The clock tower seemed a bit odd for a school, but it is beautiful, and I guess the kids always knew when to get back inside. Since these guys have been neighbors for about 125 years, I thought they should go together in one post.

      I hope you’re having a good week.


    • The school does send a serious message as you walk up to it. I think, if I could, I’d approach from the top of the hill and sneak in one of those side doors. It must have been interesting to attend school in that building.

      You have some interesting doors and a bit of a warning for us – thanks Steve.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The school building is a work of art. I would have been happy to attend school just to be in that gorgeous building! The Brownstone and brickwork is outstanding. The Sandstone/brickwork on the firehouse is equally impressive. I just love the doors and all the arches. Two magnificent buildings. Wonderful to see them standing so proudly today. They have a few scars, but considering their age and the weather they endure, they’re doing fine. Thanks for sharing these two beauties.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so right, Ginger. 125 Duluth winters would take a toll on any building, but these two have been standing side by side throughout. I’m not sure I would have gotten much work done in school. I’m sure I would have been constantly admonished for not paying attention. In addition to the building, the view of the harbor from the school had to be magnificent. I’d be lost in daydreams.

      I hope you have a great weekend.


    • I did get lucky, Manja. I was counting the different views I could use on the high school, hoping to have enough for a post. Then, as I climbed the hill, I saw the firehouse and I knew I had a great combination.

      You have some wonderful doors from Santa Fiora. I hope you have a good weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know! Could you imagine going to school in that building? The tower seems a little odd for a school, but I guess they didn’t want the kids to be late. In its time, you could see that clock from all over Duluth.


  3. These are wonderful! If the teaching were anywhere near as sturdy as the building, those students got a great education. It’s easy to see why they chained off those steps, but so sad that you couldn’t get closer. I wonder if they ever let anyone inside. What a great post. I see that it’s been up for eight hours, and that makes me scratch my head; I think I’ve had some glitches lately and things get stalled. Very glad this finally came through!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Both buildings are magnificent. And I really like that you include the nomination form with the doors, Dan. I find myself going back and forth from the descriptions on the form to the buildings themselves to match the words. Oh, yes–‘I didn’t know what time it was’ is not an excuse!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m reasonable sure the guy that had to keep that clock wound was no fan when Congress began Daylight Saving Time. I find the history in those nomination forms to be so interesting, Lois that I can’t even try to paraphrase it. I don’t need to sound knowledgeable, I can just share what I read. Sometimes it feels like I’m taking a short cut – especially with the school. I can hear my high school English teacher, “you need three sources of information, and you need to put it in your own words!” Maybe I’d get a C- :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. They certainly don’t build either schools or firehouses with so much care anymore! If that school was in NYC it would be a condominium for the wealthy–something they have done to both abandoned schools and churches.(which reminds me of one I should visit and photo one of these days)

    My door this week is far more mundane, but colorful.(K)

    Thursday Doors:  Cover the Earth

    Liked by 1 person

    • The school has been purchased and will be transformed into apartments. I would love to live in that building. I can only imagine what it would cost for an apartment in the front section, which would have an outstanding view of the harbor. Then again, if that apartment and view were in NYC, I’m guessing the rent would go up 10x.

      I enjoyed the doors and the overall feel of your post today – thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Our town’s high school appears to have been built from plans that were widely available across the US in the 1960s. There is nothing remarkable about the building. It functions well as a school, but it’s pretty drab.


    • That is sad, but I guess it;s a part of your culture. This school is slated to be repurposed as housing. I would love to have a unit in the third floor facing the water. The view must be remarkable.


    • I had the same thought about the balcony on the firehouse, Teagan. I should have taken a picture of the view from there out into the harbor. If I went to that school, I might not ever make it inside in the morning.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Brenda. The school is so big that the light kept changing as I walked around it. I kept being surprised each time I turned a corner or walked a little farther up the hill.

      Thanks for sharing you fun doors!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Awww! Firehouses are the best and this one is spectacular :) I’d venture to say my father in law must have visited here during his years as National Guardsman with some of the places he’d mentioned. Bet he’d wished for color photos back then. Yours are postcard worthy for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would have needed constant reminders about the need to pay attention if I had attended school in that building.

      I love your doors today. I want to go sleep on the sidewalk in that town :-)


  7. It is interesting to observe as buildings and rooms get repurposed how windows and doors are undone and remade. Like the window wall that now stands in the place of what used to be a garage space or a loading dock. Thanks Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is interesting to see how these buildings change to accommodate new purposes, John. The school will be converted into housing. I’d love to see the views from the upper floor. The harbor is beautiful from up on that hill.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “The vertical fenestration and tower are exceptionally well studied…” Great photos, but the colors on this building with its well-studied vertical fenestration are too intense for me. Still I appreciate its history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This stone is common in the architecture of that period in this area. I guess you would have felt the need to move south. I like learning about the buildings’ past, and I’m optimistic for their future as there are plans to repurpose them. Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Ally.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Dan – two amazing buildings and with so much history and links around the tip of Lake Superior … I hope they can find a sensible and worthwhile use for the building … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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