Architects Emmet S. Palmer and Lucien P. Hall were partners throughout the late 1800s. The two of them were responsible for luring the talented William Hunt to Duluth in 1889 with an offer to run their office. Before he arrived, however, the two of them designed several notable buildings:
- The Minnesota National Bank located at 222 West Superior Street (1893)
- The Ideal Market located at 102 West First Street (1907)
- The Charles Lovett Residence at 1728-32 East Third Street (1892)
The expanded firm, Palmer Hall & Hunt was best known for their design of the Richardsonian Romanesque Central High School in 1892, and the Duluth State Normal School (Old Main) in 1898. Both of these buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and are designated Duluth Heritage Preservation Landmarks.
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 the 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 Hunt left Minneapolis to take charge of the office of Palmer and Hall in Duluth. Two years after that Hunt became a full partner and the firm name was changed to Palmer Hall & Hunt. 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 before 1905 and moved to Deerwood, Minnesota in 1910 and Palmer retired from the practice in 1906 leaving Hunt to work alone. Hunt remained prolific, designing many buildings before moving to California in 1928. Four 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)
The firm of Emmet Palmer and Lucien P. Hall—later joined by William Hunt—designed the majority of Duluth’s public schools built from the late 1800s through the early twentieth century, as the city experienced a financial boom and the population increased dramatically. Perhaps their most famous academic design is Duluth’s historic 1892 Central High School, a Richardsonian Romanesque masterpiece designed after the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; it still stands along the upper side of Second Street between Lake Avenue and First Avenue East.
Indiana native Emmet Palmer (1848–1935) cut his architectural teeth working in New York City before settling in Duluth in 1886. He and Lucien Hall were working together by 1888 when they designed Franklin Elementary. Hall (1854–1933) also worked in New York City in his native state before moving to Duluth. William A. Hunt (1859–1930), a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, studied architecture in his home town and then worked in Minneapolis before moving north to join Palmer and Hall in 1892.
Hall retired in 1903 and moved to Minnesota’s Crow Wing County. Two years later Palmer moved to Seattle, Washington, and later to Fresno, California, where he died. Hunt stayed in Duluth and went on to design many of the city’s important homes and buildings, including the William & Mina Prindle house (2211 Greysolon Road), the A. L. Ordean House (2307 East Superior Street), the Wolvin Building (227 West First Street, now the Missabe Building), the Lonsdale Building (306 West Superior Street), and the Sellwood Building (202 West Superior Street), which he is shown holding in the sketch.
Hunt moved to Hibbing, Minnesota, in 1916 to work as the supervising architect for Oliver Mining Company and lived there until his death in 1930.