February 7, 1915: Spalding Hotel promises to stuff two special guests

The Spalding Hotel photographed in the 1890s. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

On this day in Duluth in 1915, the Duluth News Tribune reported that the Spalding Hotel was now the host of two very special guests the hotel planned to stuff—and then mount them for permanent display. Those guests? Two “especially handsome specimens” of Chinese Golden pheasants brought in from Pennsylvania. Manager Reynolds (first name not provided) explained the birds had been chosen for their special beauty and that, “after their little session with the taxidermists,” the pair was to adorn the hotel’s buffet and remain “as permanent guests of manager Reynolds.” Times had certainly changed for the Spalding. When it first opened, fresh waterfowl didn’t have to be brought in from out of state—or at all, if you believe the stories. When the hotel first opened in 1889 at the corner of Superior Street and 5th Avenue West, much of the property behind the hotel was still a natural wetland. The story goes that the Spalding served the freshest duck in town, if you didn’t mind the shot pellets. Apparently if someone ordered duck, the waiter would grab a coat and shotgun stationed at the back door of the kitchen, walk out to the marshy area that is now taken up by the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center parking ramps, shoot a duck, then bring it back to the hotel and hand it to the cook. Of course, back then they were also saying that Duluthians dug the ship canal by hand, and we know that that is nothing more than a tall tale.

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