[From Lost Duluth: Landmarks, Industries, Buildings, Homes, and the Neighborhoods in Which They Stood, copyright © 2011, Zenith City Press, Duluth, Minnesota.]
Alexander Miles, an African American native of Ohio, moved to Duluth about 1880 and opened a barbershop in the St. Louis Hotel; his wife Candace, described as “a white woman from New York,” found work in the hotel as a dressmaker. He invested in real estate, building six rental houses and [a] business block. Miles was Duluth’s first Black member of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce and designed and patented a mechanism for automatically opening and closing elevator doors (Miles’ invention would eventually put him in the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame). In 1900 Miles and his family moved to Chicago and sold the building a year later. That same year the Duluth News-Tribune called him the “wealthiest colored man in the Northwest.” In Chicago he began an insurance agency designed to eliminate the discrimination of Blacks within the industry.