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February 1, 1920: Death of original Park Superintendent Henry Helm

On this day in 1920, Henry Helm—Duluth’s first park superintendent—died on his fruit farm in Forest Grove, Oregon where he had gone to retire. Helm was born in 1844 in Logansport, Indiana, and was living in Monticello, Minnesota, when the Civil War began. He rose to the rank of sergeant with the 8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. After the war he married Emma Kreis in Monticello and the pair moved to Duluth’s West End. Helm was involved in real estate and founded the West End Building and Loan Association. He purchased property in the West End that became known as the Helm’s Addition and included Helm Street, a portion of which still runs along Interstate 35 between 26th and 30th Avenues West, shown in maroon on the map below. (Much of Helm’s Addition was part of Slabtown.) In 1891 he was appointed to the brand new Board of Park Commissioners and elected the board’s secretary. By 1899 Helm was receiving a salary of $25 per month for his work as secretary when the board decided to also employ him as the first superintendent of parks. In 1903 Helm resigned as a member of the board to devote all his time to the job of park secretary/superintendent and was instrumental in the improvement of Cascade, Lincoln, Fairmount, and Lester parks. Helm retired as superintendent in March, 1909, eventually moving to Oregon. You can read a more complete biography of Helm here.

Duluth’s Helm Street, shown in maroon above, was named for Henry Helm, the city’s first park superintendent.