May 17, 1915: City accepts Congdon’s gift of Lake Superior shoreline

On this day in Duluth in 1915, city commissioners officially accepted a gift from Chester Congdon, property along Lake Superior’s north shore that would later become Congdon Boulevard. The property was part of Congdon’s dream of building what he called the Lake Superior International Highway from Duluth to the Canadian border. Congdon first announced the plan in 1913 when he had already acquired about one-third of the property he needed between Duluth and the St. Louis County line just south of Two Harbors. By accepting the gift, the city agreed to abide by its conditions that the boulevard property would never be converted to any other purpose. As the News Tribune explained: “Mr. Congdon has paid all engineering expenses in connection with the boulevard sight [sic], and has borne the cost of award through condemnation by the city. Mayor Prince announced that this amounted in round numbers to $40,000. The right-of-way includes rights in the lake along the scenic stretch.” Unfortunately, Congdon died unexpectedly in November 1916, leaving city leaders without the assurance of financial backing, and construction was postponed. Three years later Congdon’s widow Clara took up the cause, putting the wheels in motion that would create Congdon Boulevard and the Lester Park Bridge and, subsequently, Kitchi Gammi Park including Brighton Beach. Read more about Chester Congdon here, his family here, his house (Glensheen) here, and the history of Congdon Boulevard and Kitchi Gammi Park here.

Chester Adgate Congdon. (Image: Duluth Public Library)