January 2, 1913: Two Duluth businesses merge to create Gowan-Lenning-Brown

On this day in Duluth in 1902, Duluth newspapers announced the creation of wholesale grocer Gowan-Lenning Brown, formed by the merger of the Gowan-Peyton-Congdon and Wright-Clarkson companies, which were in the same business. “Congdon” was for Chester Congdon, an early investor who apparently stepped away from the firm with the merger, as did William R. Peyton, son of pioneer banker Hamilton Peyton. Gowan was Henry P. Gowan, who managed the business. Lenning was J. O. Lenning, who became the new firm’s secretary and treasurer. Brown was W. S. Brown, formerly the president of Wright-Clarkson. Two years later Gowan-Lenning-Brown was considered Duluth’s premier wholesale grocer, and the firm moved from its facility at the foot of Fifth Avenue East to a new building at 525 South Lake Avenue in 1915. Designed by Frederick German, the building sits adjacent to Duluth’s Aerial Bridge and was built to function as both a grocery manufacturing plant and wholesale warehouse. The firm’s products were sold under the “Honor” brand, which used a likeness of George Washington with its packaging—after all, who was more honorable than the man who confessed to chopping down a cherry tree when he was but a boy? So German adorned the building with terra-cotta silhouettes of Washington’s profile. Today it is the Paulucci Building. Learning more about Duluth’s lost wholesalers—also known as jobbing houses—here.

Duluth’s Gowan-Lenning-Brown wholesalers was developed though a merger of the Clarkson-Wright and Gowan-Peyton-Congdon companies. (Image: Zenith City Press)