Emil H. Olson

One of the conspicuous landmarks in the retail shopping district of Duluth is the furniture store of Enger & Olson at Nineteenth avenue West, and Superior street. It is a business with which the people of Duluth have been familiar and patronized for many years, and has always illustrated the vitality of growth and expansion. One of the original members of the firm and continuously active in the business is Emil H. Olson, now vice president of the corporation.

Mr. Olson was born in Chippewa County. Minnesota, July 30, 1881. His father, Ole H. Olson, who died in 1909, was a native of Vernon County, Wisconsin, and a pioneer of Chippewa County. Minnesota. Emil H. Olson, second in a family of six children, attended public schools and grew up on his father’s farm, where he had his early experiences. At the age of twenty-one he left the rural district where he was living and with B. J. Enger bought out a small stock of furniture in Duluth. They started under the partnership title of Enger & Olson, and so continued for over sixteen years. In the fall of 1919 the firm of Enger & Olson was incorporated, with B. J. Enger as president, E. H. Olson, vice president, J. O. Bodin, secretary, and J. C. Lehvorsen, treasurer.

Only a very small percentage of the immense patronage accorded to the house of Enger & Olson remember their start in business at 1722 West Superior street. They remained in that modest establishment only a year and then moved to 2012 West Superior street, a location half way between two large furniture stores. In spite of what might have seemed a handicap the firm prospered and grew, and in two years had outgrown its quarters and rented an additional store. They remained in that location five years, and then rented a portion of the building where the house is today. In three years time came another necessity for expansion, and they took over the part of the building then occupied by C. B. Nunan.

In the fall of 1919, at the time of its incorporation, the company bought the building outright, and since then the second floor has been remodeled as a furniture storeroom. The company now has more than forty times as much floor space as the firm had when they began business sixteen or seventeen years ago. The partners themselves looked after nearly every feature of the business at the beginning, and hired the draying and moving of their goods. After a year they bought a horse for delivery services and hired two extra men, and an illustration of how the business has grown in equipment is the present facilities of three large delivery trucks, while the staff of employes of Enger & Olson number thirty.

Mr. Olson is a member of the English Lutheran Church and is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America. He married Miss Marie H. Rood, of Duluth.


  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.
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