Bell House

The Bell House, ca. 1930s. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

600 East Second Street | Architect: Oliver G. Traphagen | Built: 1887  |  Extant, Altered

One of the last remaining original structures in Ashtabula Heights, the Bell House is hardly recognizable as the Queen Anne–style masterpiece it once was. It originally featured two round corner towers, a square tower, wood siding, gables, dormers, finials, porches, decorative brick chimneys. An iron fence surrounding the property, and sketches of the home were featured in literature promoting Duluth.

Henry Bell, who like most of their neighbors came to Duluth from Ohio, was a pioneer finance man in Duluth, and formed the Bell and Eyster Bank in 1877 with William C. Eyster. In 1884 George Wirth designed a  downtown building for the bank at 3 West Superior Street, and it still stands today. The bank failed in the 1890s when it associate bank in London, Baring Brothers, also failed. The Bells moved to Oakland, California, where he died in 1910.

Michael H. Kelley of Kelley-Howe-Thomson, sponsors of Duluth’s first professional football team, lived in the Bell house from 1900 until he died in 1925. In 1926 the house became Grady Mortuary. In 1951, windows were removed; in 1954 porches were removed and towers were shortened or removed; synthetic siding was applied in 1971, and in 1978 an addition was built. A canopy was put over the entrance in 1988. In the 1950s Grady Mortuary was replaced by the Dougherty Funeral Home.

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