March 9, 1872: Birth of Duluth architect I. Vernon Hill

Duluth’s I. Vernon Hill House. (Image: Duluth Preservation Alliance)

On this day in 1872, future Duluth architect I. Vernon Hill was born at Stanton-under-Board in Leicestershire, England. According to historian Jill Fisher, Hill “immigrated to the United States in 1888. In 1892 Hill moved from Detroit to Duluth to take the position of company bookkeeper and clerk for the Lakeside Land Co., which was developing the streetcar suburbs of Lakeside and Lester Park. By 1894 Hill was elevated to draftsman. In 1895 he struck out as an architect in partnership with Wallace Welbanks…. Then in 1899 Hill formed another partnership, with Gearhart Tenbusch….  That partnership was short-lived and Hill worked on his own in 1901 and 1902 before partnering with W. T. Bray in 1903…. Hill designed several remarkable and well-known houses in Duluth—the Arthur P. Cook house on Skyline Parkway, and the Crosby House, located at the intersection of East Superior Street and 21st Avenue East in the East End [the house is executed in Hill’s own “ornamental cube” style”].  Another significant structure in which Hill had a hand in designing is the Endion Passenger Station, originally located at 15th Avenue East and South Street before being relocated to Canal Park as a result of the Interstate-35 extension. Hill’s promising career was cut short when he died of pneumonia at the age of 31. Other homes Hill designed include the Frederick A. Patrick home at 2306 East Superior Street, the Frank E. House home at 2210 East Superior and the William Burgess home at 2019 East Second Street. According to Fisher, “both the House and Burgess residences were completed after Hill’s death and both building permits list W. T. Bray as the architect.” You can read about the Crosby house here, the House of Rock here, and about Hill’s own East End home here.

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