June 16, 1857: Sidney Luce arrives at the Head of the Lakes

On this day across the bay in 1857, Sidney Luce arrived with his family. Luce moved his family to Superior and soon after to what would become the town of Portland, where he served as the registrar of the United States Land Office, then located up the shore at Buchanan near Stoney Point. When the Land Office was removed to the town of Duluth, Luce built a warehouse at the foot of Third Avenue East along the lake shore, where the townsites of Duluth and Portland met. It was Duluth’s first commercial building. Luce’s warehouse stood three-stories tall, with half its foundation carved into rock on one side and the other perched atop cribbing submerged in the lake on the other. The Luce family lived on the top floor. In the aftermath of the Panic of 1857, Luce’s warehouse was one of  only a few buildings in what would become Duluth and the only occupied structure in Duluth Until the late 1860s. Until 1871, according to the Minnesotian, the building served as “the artery through which the pulsations of the coming city beat; all the business was done or talked over there; in it and around it.” During this time Luce financed Duluth’s first brewery, which eventually became Duluth’s Fitger’s brewery. In 1872 Luce became Duluth’s third mayor, and according to historians, his administration was marked by “great progress in city affairs” and that he was “faithful, fearless, honest, and ever-ambitious for the city.” Read much more about Luce’s life here.

Sidney Luce. (Image: Duluth Public Library)ce

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