On this day in Duluth in 1893, the Brunnel Block at 101-109 Lake Avenue South was completely consumed by fire, killing at least five people, including children. Described as one of the largest structures in Duluth, the Brunnel was a three-story timber-frame building the Duluth News Tribune called a “veritable fire trap.” It held at least a dozen businesses on the lower floors and rented rooms on the upper floors. The fire apparently started at the rear of the building within the ironically named Cheese’s Meat Market, and the entire basement was engulfed in flames before the fire was discovered. The fire department, including several fire tugs, responded within eight minutes of the blaze being reported, but the effort failed. The building’s walls folded in on themselves and collapsed. After several days of searching, only four bodies were found, though more were reported missing. The fire claimed one more victim during the search, as a lineman named Wethe was electrocuted by the downed power lines he was trying to safely relocate. The Metropole Hotel was built on the former site of the Brunnel Block in 1903. (Public domain image; portions blurred out of respect to the victims and their families.)
June 21, 1920: Lynching Aftermath, Part 6
On this day in 1920, the Duluth News-Tribune reported on a sermon by Reverend J. B. Schaibley, pastor of Duluth’s Grace Methodist-Episcopalian Church, in which the reverend called the lynchings of three men falsely accused of sexual assault “the greatest mock trial in history, which was nothing short of a rape of the law (Lynching_1920-06-21_DNT). The paper also included a story on the letters county officials began receiving after the lynching (Lynching_1920-06-21_2_DNT).
From June 15 to June 25 we will be posting PDF files of newspaper articles from the ten days following the lynchings along with that day’s “This Day in Duluth, even if the subject has nothing to do with the lynching—so please come back to fully understand what the city was going through during the immediate aftermath of the lynchings. More about the lynchings available from the Minnesota Historical Society can be found here.