December 13, 1861: Birth of Arthur P. Cook

On this day in 1861 future Duluthian Arthur Purdon Cook was born in Chardon, Ohio. In 1894, St. Louis County created the role of St. Louis County Poor Commissioner and appointed Cook to the position. Cook, who generally went by his initials A. P., had been in Duluth since at least 1886. He worked as a druggist at Max Wirth’s pharmacy at 13 W. Superior Street (home of Lizzard’s Gallery today) and dabbled in real estate. In 1900, Cook would build one of the most recognizable homes in Duluth, the “House of Rock”—designed by architect I. Vernon Hill—at what is today 501 W. Skyline Parkway. The house would become the most photographed home in Duluth. From 1894 to 1934 Cook ran the poor farm and oversaw its development and expansion. He took four years off—from 1910 to 1914 when he served as Duluth’s postmaster—during which Chris Jensen worked as as the farm’s superintendent. In 1934 the St. Louis County Poor Farm was renamed the Cook Home in honor Cook, who retired that year. A Duluth Herald article commemorating Cook’s retirement described the position he held for forty years as requiring, “patience, understanding, fairness, and both softness and hardness at times of depression, unemployment and epidemics. Terrific pressure is brought to bear on the Clerk of the County Poor Commission and it is no job for a weakling.”  Read more about the St. Louis County Poor Farm here.

Arthur P. Cook. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

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