George Wirth

George Wirth. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

George Wirth (1861–1935), a native of Bavaria, Germany, first came to the U. S. in 1869 to study architecture at Cornell College. In 1879 he opened a practice in St. Paul, where he designed many significant homes and commercial buildings. He hired Oliver Traphagen as a carpenter and sent him north to oversee the construction of his designs in Duluth, launching Traphagen’s career in the Zenith City. Wirth never lived in Duluth; In 1886 he returned to Germany.

Wirth designed Duluth’s Grand Opera House, the 1883 Fargusson Block, the Williamson Block, the Costello Block, the Miles Block, the 1885 Board of Trade, and many others (scroll down for a complete list). Only two Wirth buildings remain in Duluth: the 1883 Bell & Eyster Bank at 3 West Superior Street (currently vacant) and the Wirth Building at 13 West Superior Street (home to Lizzard’s Gallery), which he built for his brother Max, a pharmacist. Wirth also did the 1884 Silberstein-Bondy building at 9–11 West Superior Street, and the 1882 Metropolitan Block, 113–119 West Superior Street, but most of his work has been lost to remodelings.

Duluth Buildings by George Wirth

  • Metropolitan Block*°   |   113-119 W. Superior St.   |   1882   |   razed
  • St. Louis Hotel (first)   |   330 W. Superior St.   |   1882   |   burned 1893
  • Grand Opera House*   |   333 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   burned 1889
  • Post Office   |   4th Ave. W. between Superior St. & 1st St.   |   1883   |   razed 1934
  • Fargusson Building (first)   |   406-408 W. Superior St.   |   1883    |   burned 1892
  • Portland School (aka Jefferson)   |   916 East 3rd Street   |   1883   |   razed 1891
  • Bell & Eyster Bank   |   3 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   extant
  • Haug Brothers Building   |   15 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   razed 1995
  • St. Louis County Courthouse   |   611 E. 2nd St.   |   1883   |   razed ca.1915
  • German-American Block   |   209-211 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   razed 1975
  • St. Lukes Hospital   |   323 2nd Ave.   |   1884   |   razed by 1930
  • George & Jessica Spencer House   |   1003 London Road   |   1884   |   razed ca.1905
  • Silberstein & Bondy Building°   |   9-11 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   extant
  • Miles Building   |   19 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed ca. 1910
  • Merchants Hotel   |   202-204 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed 1907
  • Williamson Block   |   125-127 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   burned 1953
  • Miller Block   |   2-4 E. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed (date unk.)
  • Costello Block (first)   |   24 E. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed 2007
  • Wirth Block  |  13 W. Superior St.  |  1886  |  extant

Duluth Homes by George Wirth

  • Albert & Stella Seip House   |   28 W. 3rd St.   |   1884   |   razed ca. 1962

Duluth Buildings by Wirth & Traphagen

  • Board of Trade Building (first) • 300 W. Superior St. • 1885 • burned • 1894
  • Fargusson Building (second)° • 402-404 W. Superior • 1886 • extant

Duluth Homes by Wirth & Traphagen

  • William & Amelia Sherwood House • 1125 E. Superior St. • 1885 • razed, 1956

*Construction supervised by Oliver Traphagen
°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable