April 14, 1906: Cornerstone laid for Superior’s Federal Building

The 1906 Superior federal Building. (Image: Zenith City Press)

On this day across the bay in 1906, Masons held a ceremony marking the laying of the cornerstone for Superior’s new $300,000 Federal Building at 1401 Tower Avenue. At 2 p.m. the Superior Marine Band led a parade of Masons and dignitaries some 300 men strong up Tower Avenue from the Masonic Temple to the building site. After an invocation by a Masonic chaplain, a sealed copper box—a time capsule—was placed inside the cornerstone, which was lowered at precisely 3 p.m. The copper box contained a copy of that day’s Superior newspapers, a copy of Superior’s charter and ordinances, the most-recent reports of the city comptroller and board of education, a city directory, statistics on the city’s “commercial and industrial standing,” and a list of members of both the Superior Commercial Club and all of Superior’s Masons. The building opened in 1908 and served as a courthouse, customs office, Internal Revenue office, home to the U.S. Marshals, and a post office. Thanks to a fund drive, the building’s original $150,000 budget was doubled, and architect Earl Tower spent much of that money on extravagances such as marble, mahogany, solid bronze, and opulent furniture. In 1925 four men broke into the Federal Building and bound and gagged the night janitor, promising him $10,000 if he kept quiet. They walked away with $71,000 worth of postage stamps they hoped to convert to cash. We could not find any information of what became of the thieves or the stamps. Read the entire history of Duluth’s federal building here.

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