St. Peter’s Catholic Church

St. Peter’s Catholic Church, ca. 1927. (Image: Zenith City Press)

818 West Third Street | Architect: Peter Summers | Built: 1926 | Extant

In 1925, outgrowing the former St. Jean-Baptiste Church they had purchased from the French in 1905, St. Peter’s congregation built a Romanesque-Gothic church—designed by parishioner Peter Summers, son of Duluth’s first Italian immigrants—at 818 West Third Street. Its position atop Point of Rocks was wonderfully appropriate for a church named after the disciple Simon, who Christ renamed Peter, the “rock” upon which he would build his church.

Although most of St. Peter’s parishioners were southern Italian, a few were highly-skilled stone masons from northern Italy. They constructed much of the brick and stone work that still graces Duluth, including the Sellwood building, Old Central and Denfeld High Schools, St. Scholastica’s Tower Hall, the Lakeside Pumping Station, countless bluestone foundations and retaining walls, Enger Tower, and the bridges of Seven Bridges Road. These artisans volunteered to build the church out of blue, yellow, and gray native stone harvested from Duluth’s hillside near Twin Ponds.

The Duluth Diocese closed St. Peter’s in 2010 and planned to demolish it and sell the lot. Fortunately artist Jeffrey T. Larson purchased the building in 2015. The building is now the Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art.

Story by Tony Dierckins. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by Tony Dierckins.