Oliver G. Traphagen

Oliver G. Traphagen. (Image: Zenith City Press)

Oliver Greene Traphagen (1854–1932), a native of Tarrytown, New York, moved to St. Paul about 1880 and worked as a carpenter for prominent architect George Wirth. By 1882 Traphagen moved to Duluth to supervise construction of buildings designed by Wirth, including the Grand Opera House and the Metropolitan Block.

Wirth and Traphagen became business partners in 1884, but Wirth returned to his native Germany in 1886. (Traphagen would later redesign many of Wirth’s buildings.) Traphagen worked alone until 1890 when Francis Wilford Fitzpatrick joined the practice. Fitzpatrick (1863–1931), a Canadian from Montreal, worked in Minneapolis from 1884 until 1890 when he joined Traphagen. From 1890 until 1896 Traphagen and Fitzpatrick designed more than thirty of Duluth’s most significant structures  and many homes for Duluth’s financial elite, including several in Ashtabula Heights. They were called “Duluth’s representative architects.”

Prominent Duluth architect Frederick German cut his teeth working as a draftsman for Traphagen, and later Traphagen & Fitzpatrick, working on the drawing for such prominent buildings as the Oppel Block and Duluth’s 1889 City Hall, both designed by Traphagen. German would go on to design many of Duluth’s east end mansions and remodeled Wirth’s Silberstein & Bondy store.

Traphagen also oversaw the initial construction of the U. S. Federal Building and Post Office designed by federal architect H. G. Linderman. Construction on the project began in 1892, when Democrat Charles d’Autremont, Jr. held the Duluth Mayor’s office. Traphagen, also a Democrat, was hired to oversee construction. Ray T. Lewis, a Republican, replaced d’Autremaunt in 1894. Lewis replaced Traphagen with architect and fellow Republican John J. Wangenstein.

Both Traphagen and Fitzpatrick left Duluth in 1896, Fitzpatrick first to Washington D.C. to work for the federal government and later to Chicago. He became internationally known as an authority on fire prevention and originated October’s National Fire Prevention Day.  Traphagen moved to Hawaii where he was responsible for at least thirty-five buildings constructed in Honolulu and Hilo between 1898 and 1907.  He moved to San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire, but designed only one building there before retiring.

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

°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable

Duluth Buildings by Oliver Traphagen

  • Oneota School   |   4420 W. 1st St.   |   1886   |   razed 1973
  • American Exchange Bank   |   230 W. Superior St.   |   1886   |   razed 1955
  • St. Louis Hotel addition   |   318-324 W. Superior St.   |   1886   |   burned 1893
  • Ernest Wieland Store   |   209 W. Superior St.   |   1886   |   razed 1975
  • O’Brien & Knowlton Block   |   126-132 W. Michigan St.   |   1887   |   razed 1961
  • Duluth National Bank   |   229-233 W. Superior St.   |   1887   |   razed 1958
  • Odd Fellows Hall   |   20 N. Lake Ave.   |   1888   |   razed 1975
  • Manufacturers’ Bank    |   302-304 Central Ave.   |   1888   |   razed ca.1977
  • Traphagen Block   |   301-303 Central Ave.   |   1888   |   extant
  • Stone-Ordean Warehouse   |   239-245 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1888   |   razed 1966
  • Oppel Block   |   115-117 E. Superior St.   |   1888   |   razed 1987
  • Pastoret-Stenson Block   |   29-33 E. Superior St.   |   1888   |   razed 1999
  • Wieland Block   |   26 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
  • Duluth Coffee & Spice   |   1701-1703 W. Michigan St.   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1920
  • Marshall-Wells Warehouse   |   247-253 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1889   |   razed 1966
  • St. Louis County Jail (first)   |   614 E. 3rd St.   |   1889   |   razed 1954
  • DFD Engine House #1   |   101 E. 3rd St.   |   1889   |   extant
  • Duluth City Hall (first)   |   132 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
  • Duluth Police Headquarters & Jail   |   126 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
  • Johnson Block   |   323 W. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
  • West Duluth Village Hall   |   531 Central Avenue   |   1888   |   extant

Duluth Homes by Oliver Traphagen

  • Melvin & Ida Forbes House   |   530 2nd St.   |   1886   |   razed ca. 1966
  • Charles & Edna Arthur House   |   230 E. 4th St.   |   1886   |   extant
  • Buckingham Terrace (townhouses)   |   18-30 W. 3rd St.   |   1887   |   extant
  • Salter Terrace (townhouses)   |   301-307 E. 3rd St.   |   1887   |   extant
  • Pastoret Terrace° (townhouses)   |   129-131 E. 1st St.   |   1887   |   extant
  • Henry & Alameda Bell House°   |   600 E. 2nd St.   |   1887   |   extant
  • William & Alice Billson House   |   1531 E. 1st St.   |   1887   |   extant
  • James & Persis Norton House   |   1131 E. Superior St.   |   1887   |   razed ca. 1933
  • William & Sarah McGonagle House   |   129 N. 12th Ave. E.   |   1888   |   extant
  • Archibald & Anna McLean House   |   3 E. 4th St.   |   1888   |   razed 1939
  • Matthew & Lucy Harrison House   |   2605 Greysolon Rd   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1935
  • Charles & Ella Barker House   |   501 W. 2nd St.   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1907
  • Osmond & Emilie Hoyt House   |   1119 E. 1 st St.   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1980
  • George & Mary Howe House   |   1421 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
  • Guilford & Caroline Hartley   |   1305 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   razed 1954
  • August & Clara Fitger House   |   639 E. 1st St.   |   1889   |   extant
  • Roger & Olive Munger House* • 405 Mesaba Ave. • 1871 • razed 1955
  • Roger & Olive Munger carriage house* • 402 W. 5th St. • 1871 • extant

°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable

*The Munger house and carriage house were remodeled by Traphagen in 1889, original architect unknown; both Traphagen’s and the original architect’s work on the carriage house are unrecognizable today

Duluth Buildings by Traphagen & Fitzpatrick

  • Phoenix Block   |   333 W. Superior   |   1890   |   burned 1995
  • Fitger Brewery Boiler House   |   600 E. Superior St.   |   1890   |   extant
  • A W. Wieland Store°   |   123 W. Superior St.   |   1890   |   extant
  • Hoppmann Building   |   421 W. Superior St.   |   1890   |   razed 1966
  • Lester Park Hotel   |   6003 London Rd   |   1890   |   razed 1902
  • Costello Block (second)   |   22 E. Superior St.   |   1891   |   razed 2007
  • Lyceum Theater   |   423-431 W. Superior St.   |   1891   |   razed 1966
  • First Presbyterian Church   |   300 E. 2nd St.   |   1891   |   extant
  • Incline Pavilion   |   5th Ave. W. & Skyline Pkwy   |   1891   |   burned 1901
  • Duluth Shoe Co./Duluth Dry Goods Co.   |   Foot of 6th Ave. W.   |   1891   |   burned 1899
  • Selleck Block   |   631 W. Michigan St.   |   1891   |   razed ca. 1905
  • Charlotte Wells Store   |   913-915 W. Michigan St.   |   1891   |   razed ca. 1938
  • Hardy Hall   |   2000 Woodland Avenue   |   1891   |   razed 1902
  • Torrey Building   |   314-316 W. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
  • Boyle Brothers Saloon & Restaurant   |   319 W. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
  • Duluth Street Railway Co. Barn   |   2601-2619 W. Superior St.   |   1892   |   razed 1984
  • Duluth Driving Park   |   Woodland between Wabasha & Winona   |   1892   |   razed ca. 1907
  • Herald Building   |   220 W. Superior St.   |   1893   |   extant
  • Mesaba Block   |   407-409 W. Superior St.   |   1893   |   razed ca. 1965
  • Stone-Ordean Warehouse   |   203-211 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1893   |   razed 1966
  • St. Louis Hotel (second)   |   318-324 W. Superior St.   |   1893   |   razed 1932
  • Sagar Drug   |   225-227 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1893   |   razed 1966
  • Crane Ordway Building   |   8-10 E. Michigan St.   |   1894   |   razed ca. 1980
  • Board of Trade Building (second)   |   301 W. First Street   |   1895   |   extant
  • Fitger’s Brewery Settling Room   |   600 E. Superior St.   |   1896   |   extant

Duluth Homes by Traphagen & Fitzpatrick

  • Philadelphia Terrace (townhouses)   |   1412-20 E. Superior St.   |   1890   |   razed ca.1984
  • Chester Terrace (townhouses)   |   1212-1228 E. First St.   |   1890   |   extant
  • Clinton & Kate Markell House   |   325 E. 2nd St.   |   1890   |   razed 1961
  • Alonzo & Julia Whiteman House   |   2732 London Rd   |   1890   |   razed ca. 1912
  • James Norton Rental House   |   1120 E. First St.   |   1891   |   razed 2011
  • James Norton Rental House   |   1124 E. First St.   |   1891   |   razed 2011
  • Alexander Miles Rental House   |   301 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
  • Alexander Miles Rental House   |   303 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
  • Alexander Miles Rental House   |   305 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
  • Alexander Miles Rental House   |   307 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
  • Alexander Miles Rental House   |   309 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   razed ca. 1980
  • Alexander Miles Rental House   |   311 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
  • Unnamed Residence   |   1001 E. Superior St.   |   1891   |   razed
  • Henry & Lizzie Blume House   |   1419 E. 2nd St.   |   1891   |   extant
  • Myron & Mary Bunnell House   |   1306 E. Superior St.   |   1892   |   razed ca. 1960
  • William & Josephine Magie House   |   1401 E. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
  • Oliver & Amelia Traphagen House   |   1511 E. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
  • Munger Terrace (townhouses)   |   405 Mesaba Ave. (orig. 411-413 Mesaba)   |   1892   |   extant
  • Townsend & Mayme Hoopes House   |   2206 Woodland Ave.   |   1892   |   razed 1938
  • William & Amelia Sherwood House   |   2535 Woodland Ave.   |   1892   |   razed ca. 1956
  • Charles & Maude Towne House   |   2334 Woodland Ave.   |   1892   |   extant
  • Hamilton & Martha Peyton House   |   1329 E. Superior St.   |   1893   |   razed 1932
  • Charles & Louise Schiller House   |   1420 E. 2nd St.   |   1893   |   extant
  • George & Jessica Spencer House   |   302 Sixteenth Ave. E.   |   1893   |   extant   |
  • Elmer & Lizzie Matter House   |   314 E. 2nd St.   |   1894   |   razed, (date unk.)

°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable

Non-Duluth Buildings designed by Traphagen & Fitzpatrick

  • Tuohy Mercantile   |   1515 N. First St., Suprior, WI   |   1895   |   extant
  • P.R. L. Hardenbergh & Co. Building   |   25-239 E. Eight St., St. Pul, MN   |   1895   |   razed by 1989

Hawaii Buildings designed by Oliver Traphagen

  • Haleiwa Hotel   |   North Shore, Oahu   |   1898   |   razed, ca. 1952
  • McChesney & Sons Building   |   42 Queen St.   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
  • Judd Building   |   Corner Fort & Merchants St.   |   1899   |   extant
  • Elite Building   |   Fort St.   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
  • Boston Block   |   Fort St, near Queen   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
  • Sprekels Block (First Bank of Hilo)   |   30 Kalakaua St, Hilo   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
  • Palama Fire House   |   North King St.   |   1900   |   extant
  • Mcintyre Building   |   corner King & Fort Streets   |   1900   |   razed
  • Kaka’ako Pumping Station    |   500 Ala Moana Blvd   |   1900   |   extant
  • Moana Hotel   |   2365 Kalakaua   |   1901   |   extant
  • Mendonca Building Hotel   |   Smith & Maumakea   |   1901   |   extant
  • Collins Harness Maker   |   82-84 S. King St.   |   1901   |   razed
  • E. O. Hall & Sons Building   |   corner King & Fort Streets   |   1902   |   razed 1966
  • Waity Building   |   74 S.King St   |   1902   |   razed
  • Lewers & Cooke Building   |   King St. between Fort & Alakea   |   1902   |   razed
  • Hackfeld Building   |   745 Fort St.   |   1902   |   razed after 1967
  • Queen’s Hospital Wing/Dr.’s cottage   |   Ala Moana St.   |   1903   |   razed
  • O’Neil Building corner   |   Corner, Fort & King Streets   |   1903   |   razed
  • Odd Fellows Hall   |   Fort St. near King St.   |   1903   |   razed after 1967
  • Cooper-Cartwright Building   |   Fort & King Streets   |   1903   |   razed
  • McLean Building   |   Nuuanu St.   |   1904   |   extant
  • Oahu Prison   |   Oahu   |   1904   |   extant
  • Immigration Station   |   Ala Moana   |   1905   |   razed ca. 1934
  • Electric Light Plant   |   Nuuana Valley   |   1905   |   unknown
  • Crematorium   |   Nuuana Cemetery   |   1905   |   extant
  • Hilo Jail   |   Punahela St., Hilo   |   1905   |   extant
  • State Archives Building   |   State Capitol Grounds   |   1906   |   extant

Hawaii Homes designed by Oliver Traphagen

  • C B Reynolds House   |   1040 Green St.   |   1898   |   razed (date unk.)
  • C B Reynolds House   |   Green St., exact address unknown   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
  • George & Helen Carter House   |   corner Liliha & Judd St.   |   1901   |   razed
  • August Drier House   |   Beretania St.   |   1902   |   razed
  • Punahou President’s House   |   1601 Punahou   |   1907   |   extant
  • James & Mabel Castle House   |   2933 Kalakaua St.   |   unk.   |   razed 1959