October 2, 1932: Lester Park Golf Course presented to the city of Duluth

On this day in Duluth in 1932, the City Land Company officially presented the first nine holes of the Lester Park Golf course to the city of Duluth. The golf course was the brainchild of park superintendent F. Rodney Paine, who had overseen the development of Enger Park Golf Course in 1926, a project which paid for itself in two years and was generating income for the park department. In 1931, with the Great Depression extending Duluth’s unemployment plan, Paine’s idea would not only provide recreation for Duluth’s not-so-wealthy (the wealthy already had Northland and Ridgeview country clubs), eventually generate income, and immediately put 75 unemployed men to work under Duluth’s City Works Administration, which predated Franklin Roosevelt’s national Works Project Administration. Paine’s affluent friends—many of who were members at Northland and Ridgeview—came up with the cash to underwrite the initial construction cost of the course’s first nine holes. Robert Congdon (as well as the Congdon Estate), Congdon’s brother-in-law H. C. Dudley, grain trader Ward Ames, George H. Spencer, Paine’s father F. W. Paine, B. M. Peyton (son of H. M. Peyton), Thomas D. Merrill,  I. S. Moore, R. W. Higgins, Mrs. A. M. Marshall, Mrs. A. L. Ordean, and Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Rice formed the City Land Company and pooled $25,000 for the course’s creation. The funding required no down payment by the city, and the first payment wasn’t due until 1933; no annual payments would exceed $6,000, and the debt would be paid off in five years. Read much more about the history of Lester Park Golf Course here.

Workers clear land for Lester Park Golf Course, 1931. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)

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