Posts by Judith Liebaert

The Belgian Club of Superior

An estimated 200,000 Belgians immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1975, with the greatest numbers arriving before 1910. The majority of Belgian who came to the U.S. between 1850 and 1924 settled in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. The largest Wisconsin populations were concentrated in Door County, but Superior welcomed its fair share as…

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Fairlawn, aka the Pattison House

906 East Second Street |  Architect Unknown | 1890 | Extant Superior’s Fairlawn Mansion was built in 1890 as the home of industrialist Martin Pattison and his family. Overlooking the bayfront, it stands as an example of the opulent lifestyle led by the nouveau riché during America’s Gilded Age. The mansion also serves as an…

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Fairlawn as a Children’s Home

In 1920, Grace Pattison and her youngest daughter Lois moved west to California to help relieve Lois’ symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Before leaving Superior, Pattison made one final gift to the people of the city by donating Fairlawn, the family’s beloved grand Victorian home her late husband had built along Superior Bay, to the Superior…

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The Restoration of Fairlawn

In 1920, Grace Pattison and her daughter moved out of Fairlawn, the grand Victorian home built by Grace and her husband Martin, a former mayor of Superior. She gave the estate to the Superior Children’s Home and Refuge Association (SCHRA), and it became a children’s home. In the early 1960s, as public agencies such as Foster…

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The 1928 Summer White House

Like many others before and since, President Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge found the sweltering Washington D.C. summers oppressive, so during the warmer months he travelled to less-humid destinations to relax and recreate. But the business of the nation had to continue, so Coolidge and his staff established offices near where he was staying, each of…

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Superior’s Sts. Anthony and Margaret Church

When Superior, Wisconsin’s Sts. Anthony and Margaret Catholic Church was established in 1914, it came as a welcome relief for the Catholic Belgians in the city’s Allouez neighborhood. Before that they were forced to attend mass two miles away at St. Francis Catholic Church in the East End—and getting there could be treacherous. Established in…

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Superior Public Schools

Superior, Wisconsin, was organized as a city in 1854, just a year after the first log cabin was built along the shores of the Nemadji River. Less than two years later—in January, 1856—Superior’s residents were calculating how many school-age children lived in the community and, therefore, how many schools it needed to build. The Fairbrass…

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The 1862 Superior Stockade

The settlement of almost all frontier towns during the U.S.’s 19th-century western expansion grew out of military forts built to protect pioneers from local indigenous peoples, but Superior, Wisconsin, was an exception. Founded in 1854 following the Second Treaty of LaPointe, Superior was a relatively safe place when first settled; the local Ojibwe had traded…

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Barker’s Island

Most residents of and visitors to Superior, Wisconsin, consider Barker’s Island—located just off the Superior Bay shoreline on the eastern edge of the city—as the community’s recreational focal point. After all, it is the home of a marina, hotels and restaurants, public museums, the site of annual dragon boat races and pond hockey tournaments. Few…

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The S. S. Meteor

At the northern edge of Barker’s Island, set back from the Superior Bay shoreline less than two miles from the site of her 1896 launch, rests an unassuming little vessel with a big story to tell. The tale begins in 1888 with Captain Alexander McDougall, a retired seaman who settled in Duluth and entered the…

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