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March 1, 1932: Royal W. Alworth announces plans for Duluth’s Medical Arts Building

On this day in Duluth in 1932, Royal W. Alworth announced he would be constructing a Medical Arts Building in Duluth. Alworth, the son of Duluth pioneer Marshal H. Alworth, followed his father into business in mining and real estate ventures, promoting and operating manufacturing and industrial properties. The elder Alworth already had a grand building in his name standing at 306 West Superior Street. Royal’s venture would follow two current trends sweeping the nation: Art Deco architecture and buildings designed specifically to serve physicians, dentists, and their patients. Alworth selected Ernest R. Erikson to design the building, which would stand at 324 West Superior Street on the site of the St. Louis Hotel. Workers broke ground September 1, 1932. During the course of construction some 600 men were employed, following a three-shift-a-day schedule. This is particularly remarkable when you considered that 1932 was the economic low point of the Great Depression. By Christmas it was completely enclosed. On March 28, less than seven months after work began, the first tenants—Duluth’s Chamber of Commerce—began moving in. Read a complete history of the Medical Arts Building here.

The Medical Arts Building illuminated for its grand opening event in May 1933. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)