Duluth Auditorium

The Duluth Auditorium. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

302 East First Street | Architect: Unknown | Built: 1896 | Lost: 1979

Duluth’s Curling Club commissioned the Union Rink Company to build a curling facility at 302 East First Street, but by the time the rink was completed in 1896, a contract disagreement had sent the curlers looking for another place to play. The building, a two-and-a-half-story wooden structure with a curling rink on the first floor and open ice skating on the second, opened in 1896 as the Union Ice-Skating Rink.

By 1900 the rink closed and over the years the building was used for various purposes. In 1910 the Auditorium was faced with brick. In 1921 the L. Hammel Company purchased the building and converted its second floor into a hall with a seating capacity of 2,500. The company then renamed the building the Auditorium and advertised it as “well adapted for conventions, mass meetings, balls, assemblies, or any occasion for the gathering of a large number of people.”

From 1965 to 1978 the building was home to the Hemlock Garage, an automobile repair shop that still operates at 110 East Fourth Street. In 1979 Krenzen’s Cadillac-Pontiac-Honda was using the building as storage, renting a portion of it to future Duluth mayor John Fedo for his car refurbishing business. On March 6, 1979— three hours after Fedo moved his business out of the building — the Auditorium’s roof collapsed under heavy snows. Several cars were crushed, and the building was so badly damaged it had to be demolished.