Sargent House

Sargent House. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

4500 London Road | Architect: Unknown | Built: 1872 | Lost: ca. 1915

When the Sargents built this house on London Road in 1872, the neighborhood was considered part of the “forest primeval.” As one of the first homes in what would become Lakeside, it was a landmark during the early days and the Sargents customarily kept a light burning all night during stormy weather as a beacon for ships approaching the Duluth harbor. In June 1876, twenty-seven steamers became stuck in the ice off the Lester River. Many crew members and passengers came ashore by jumping from ice floe to ice floe, and supposedly Mrs. Sargent — then already a widow — served over three hundred cups of coffee to those who took refuge in her home. The house also provided a welcome respite for woodsmen returning late to Duluth from lumber camps along the North Shore.

The Sargent House — with its square footprint, Mansard roof, dormer windows, and wide eaves with brackets — was a good example of Second Empire architecture, popularized in Paris in the nineteenth century. It was not a common style in Duluth. When the Sargents held a party there in 1873 after returning from a trip to Europe, over two hundred guests attended the soiree.

General Sargent died in 1875 in Germany where he had gone for his health. Sargent Creek, between Gary-New Duluth and Fond du Lac, is named for him. Mary Sargent continued to live in the house until her death in 1896. Hotel owner W. A. McKay purchased the house in 1915; he razed it to make room for another home, which still stands.