402 West First Street | Architects: Bray & Nystrom | Built: 1908 | Extant (Duluth Athletic Club)
Duluth’s Commercial Club was an organization much like today’s Chamber of Commerce or the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau: a booster organization made up of locals, mostly business owners, to promote Duluth as a great place to open a business or take a vacation. In the 1940s and 1950s the building was home to the Duluth Athletic Club. (Unfortunately, while renovating the building, the Athletic Club had its brick façade covered over.) Club members enjoyed workout facilities, courts for handball and other sports, and a small restaurant. Between 1976 and 1994 the building played host to one of Duluth’s most popular restaurants, the Chinese Lantern, along with its companion business, the Brass Phoenix nightclub. Fire put an end to the Chinese Lantern. In recent years a new restaurant with an old name took the Chinese Lantern’s place: The Duluth Athletic Club. The restaurant is now closed.