September 10, 1921: Thomas Merritt replaces Bert Enger on Duluth’s park board.

On this day in Duluth in 1921, Duluth Mayor Sam Snively appointed Thomas Merritt to replace Bert Enger on Duluth’s Park Board. Enger, a West End furniture merchant who had donated considerable funds for Duluth’s parks, was stepping down from the advisory organization due to the “stress of business.” The Duluth News Tribune reported that “Mr. Merritt has been active in park matters and is deeply concerned with future beautification of Duluth as planned by Mayor Snively. He is aiding Mayor Snively in his campaign for boulevard funds and has already received subscriptions of prominent Duluthians. The fund will be used to defray expenses of boulevard beautification.” The boulevard referred to was, of course, today’s Skyline Parkway. Merritt would do much more than help beautify the boulevard. Merritt was one of the many grandchildren of Duluth pioneers Lewis and Hepzubah Merritt, who established Oneota Township, part of West Duluth today. In 1925 he also donated a forty-acre parcel in honor of his father Napolean B. Merritt, located at 128th Avenue West near the base of Ely’s Peak. Two years later he donated two hundred acres of forested land on the city’s western hillside—five forty-acre tracts north and west of Magney Park as a memorial for his uncles Leonidas, Alfred, Cassius Clay, Jerome, and Andrus Merritt, who played key roles in developing the Mesabi Iron Range. Those parks are now part of Magney-Snively Park. Read about  Magney-Snively Park as well as Duluth’s other undeveloped parks here.

Thomas A. Merritt. (Image: Duluth Public Library)