William Allen Hunt

William A. Hunt. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

William Allen Hunt was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 13, 1859.  He gained his architectural education as an apprentice to Charles Cropsey, who was then recognized as one of the prominent architects of that city.  After four years he moved to Minneapolis where he was connected with several firms.  During his short tenure in that city (1885-1888) he designed one of the most lavish residential row houses there, “LaVeta Terrace,” located on 17th Street south of downtown (demolished in 1932).  The building was evidence of his “considerable skills as a designer” since he won this commission in a design competition.  In 1889 Duluth architects Emmet S. Palmer and Lucien P. Hall, of the firm Palmer & Hall, then well-known architects of the city, persuaded Hunt to leave Minneapolis and to take charge of their office in Duluth.  Two years after that Hunt became a full partner and the firm name was changed to Palmer Hall & Hunt (see section on Palmer & Hall, below).  It was during this period that the Duluth Normal School (“Old Main,” lost to fire in 1993) and the Hayes Block at 30-38 East Superior in downtown Duluth were built, as well as the East End Residence of Albert and Louise Ordean at 2307 East Superior Street.  Hall retired sometime after 1903 and Palmer retired from the practice in 1906 leaving Hunt to work alone.  Hunt remained prolific, designing many buildings before moving to Hibbing in 1918.  Five of them were East End houses in the range of styles being explored in this period:

Zar and Frances Scott Residence at 2125 East First Street (1907)
William and Mary LaRue Residence at 2131 East Second Street (1909)
Alice Florada Residence at 221 North 23rd Avenue East (1909)
Edward Forsyth Residence at 2111 East Third Street (1910)
Frederick B. and Marion Spelman Residence at 124 North 24th Avenue East (1910)

Buildings designed by Hunt elsewhere in Duluth include:

Wolvin Building (Missabe Building) at 227 West First Street (1904)
William Prindle Residence at 2211 Greysolon Road (1905)
Julius Barnes Residence at 25 South 26th Avenue East (1906)
Commercial building at 18 East First Street (1906)
Sellwood Building at 200 West Superior Street (1908)
Commercial building with apartments (Kingsley Heights Apartments) at 101-107 West First Street (1908)
Samuel Colter Residence at 2521 East Fifth Street (1910)
C. E. Mershon Residence at 1730 East Superior Street (1910)
Salter Saloon (now Zeitgeist) at 220 East Superior Street (1912)
Linna Pattison Residence at 2429 Greysolon Road (1914)
St. Luke’s Hospital

Hunt’s 1930 obituary documents other regional architectural achievements:

“Dies in Hibbing.  WILLIAM A. HUNT, HIBBING, IS DEAD.  Hibbing, Minn., Aug. 16.—   (Special to The Herald.)—William A. Hunt, prominent Hibbing architect, formerly of Duluth, died late yesterday afternoon of peritonitis after an illness of short duration. He was brought to the hospital Wednesday, but failed rapidly, and his death occurred at 5 p.m. As the supervising architect for the Oliver Mining company Mr. Hunt was the guiding power behind the erection of many South Hibbing buildings. When the village was moved from North Hibbing, Mr. Hunt was in direct charge of all of the Oliver Mining company construction, which included most of the principal erections in the main section of the village. The exposition building and other fair grounds structures were designed by Mr. Hunt, who had been in Hibbing for the last twelve or fourteen years. The deceased was born seventy-two years ago in New England. His professional training was gained at Cincinnati, where he lived for some years. Before coming to Hibbing Mr. Hunt was a leading architect in Duluth for many years. While in Hibbing Mr. Hunt had made his home at the Androy hotel…”

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William Allen Hunt is proud to trace his origin from the state that is known as the birthplace of presidents. He was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 13, 1859. Cincinnati was then a comparatively small town, but a very important one as a commercial center. Here Mr. Hunt received not only his general education, but also took up the study of architecture. As a boy he attended the common public schools, with which every western community is so well supplied, and after graduating from the grammar grade attended and graduated from the high school.

Both of these courses of study were taken in his native town.

After graduating from the Cincinnati high school Mr. Hunt entered the office of Charles Cropsey, who was then recognized as one of the prominent architects of the Ohio metropolis. He served with Mr. Cropsey for four years, which were years of close application to the intricate details of his profession and which brought him a recognized standing in it. At the end of these four years an opportunity offered of an advantageous nature in Minneapolis, Minn., and he decided to transfer his activities to the North Star state. In the course of his professional career in Minneapolis Mr. Hunt was connected with several firms. His abilities had attracted attention in the state and in 1889 the rapidly growing city of Duluth reached out for him. The Duluth firm of Palmer & Hall, then well-known architects of the city, persuaded Mr. Hunt to leave Minneapolis and to take charge of their office in Duluth. Two years after his arrival in Duluth, or in 1891, Mr. Hunt was taken into partnership, the style of the firm being Palmer, Hall & Hunt. In a year or so Mr. Hall retired and the firm then became Palmer & Hunt. In 1906 Mr. Palmer retired and since then Mr. Hunt has conducted business alone. Some of the most magnificent buildings of Duluth, viewed from an architectural standpoint, have been the creations of Mr. Hunt. Among these may be mentioned the Central high school, which never fails to awaken the enthusiastic admiration of every visitor to the city, and which is generally acclaimed as the most beautiful as well as best arranged building for its various purposes that there is in the country. Other works of Mr. Hunt for the school department are well worthy of mention, as he has designed many of the beautiful public school buildings of the city, as well as the State Normal School buildings at Duluth, and the grandeur, as well as the harmonic simplicity of their designs, elicit the enthusiastic approval and admiration of those well qualified to judge on works of this nature. Notable commercial structures of the city designed by Mr. Hunt are the Wolvin building, Sellwood and Lonsdale, which are modern office buildings, the wholesale buildings of F. A. Patrick & Company, Marshall-Wells Company and the Northern Shoe Company. He was also the architect of St. Luke’s Hospital and of the private residences of J. W. Leithhead, W. M. Prindle, A. L. Ordean, Z. D. Scott, Julius Barnes, C. E. Mershon and Mrs. Florada. Mr. Hunt was married April 23, 1909, to Marie B. Newbergh, of Minneapolis.

He has no children.

Sources:

  • Larson, Jill. Intensive Survey of Historic Resources in Duluth’s East End (Part 1). City of Duluth, Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission, Duluth, Minn.: August 2007.
  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
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