Oliver Traphagen

Oliver G. Traphagen. (Image: Zenith City Press)

Oliver Greene Traphagen (1854–1932), a native of Tarrytown, New York, moved to St. Paul about 1880 and worked as a carpenter for prominent architect George Wirth. By 1882 Traphagen moved to Duluth to supervise construction of buildings designed by Wirth, including the Grand Opera House and the Metropolitan Block.

Wirth and Traphagen became business partners in 1884, but Wirth returned to his native Germany in 1886. (Traphagen would later redesign many of Wirth’s buildings.) Traphagen worked alone until 1890 when Francis Wilford Fitzpatrick joined the practice. Fitzpatrick (1863–1931), a Canadian from Montreal, worked in Minneapolis from 1884 until 1890 when he joined Traphagen. From 1890 until 1896 Traphagen and Fitzpatrick designed more than thirty of Duluth’s most significant structures  and many homes for Duluth’s financial elite, including several in Ashtabula Heights. They were called “Duluth’s representative architects.” (A complete list of buildings designed by Traphagen can be found below.)

Prominent Duluth architect Frederick German cut his teeth working as a draftsman for Traphagen, and later Traphagen & Fitzpatrick, working on the drawing for such prominent buildings as the Oppel Block and Duluth’s 1889 City Hall, both designed by Traphagen. German would go on to design many of Duluth’s east end mansions and remodeled Wirth’s Silberstein & Bondy store.

Traphagen also oversaw the initial construction of the U. S. Federal Building and Post Office designed by federal architect H. G. Linderman. Construction on the project began in 1892, when Democrat Charles d’Autremont, Jr. held the Duluth Mayor’s office. Traphagen, also a Democrat, was hired to oversee construction. Ray T. Lewis, a Republican, replaced d’Autremaunt in 1894. Lewis replaced Traphagen with architect and fellow Republican John J. Wangenstein.

Both Traphagen and Fitzpatrick left Duluth in 1896, Fitzpatrick first to Washington D.C. to work for the federal government and later to Chicago. He became internationally known as an authority on fire prevention and originated October’s National Fire Prevention Day.  Traphagen moved to Hawaii where he was responsible for at least thirty-five buildings constructed in Honolulu and Hilo between 1898 and 1907.  He moved to San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire, but designed only one building there before retiring.

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Duluth Buildings designed by George Wirth & Oliver Traphagen, 1885 – 1886

Commercial/Public Buildings
Board of Trade Building (first)   |   300 W. Superior St.   |   1885   |   burned 1894
Fargusson Building (second)°   |   402-404 W. Superior   |   1886   |   extant
Homes
William & Amelia Sherwood House   |   1125 E. Superior St.   |   1885   |   razed, 1956

°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable

Duluth Buildings designed by Oliver Traphagen, 1886 – 1890

Commercial/Public Buildings
Oneota School   |   4420 W. 1st St.   |   1886   |   razed 1973
American Exchange Bank   |   230 W. Superior St.   |   1886   |   razed 1955
St. Louis Hotel addition   |   318-324 W. Superior St.   |   1886   |   burned 1893
Ernest Wieland Store   |   209 W. Superior St.   |   1886   |   razed 1975
O’Brien & Knowlton Block   |   126-132 W. Michigan St.   |   1887   |   razed 1961
Duluth National Bank   |   229-233 W. Superior St.   |   1887   |   razed 1958
Odd Fellows Hall   |   20 N. Lake Ave.   |   1888   |   razed 1975
Manufacturers’ Bank    |   302-304 Central Ave.   |   1888   |   razed ca.1977
Traphagen Block   |   301-303 Central Ave.   |   1888   |   extant
Stone-Ordean Warehouse   |   239-245 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1888   |   razed 1966
Oppel Block   |   115-117 E. Superior St.   |   1888   |   razed 1987
Pastoret-Stenson Block   |   29-33 E. Superior St.   |   1888   |   razed 1999
Wieland Block   |   26 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
Duluth Coffee & Spice   |   1701-1703 W. Michigan St.   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1920
Marshall-Wells Warehouse   |   247-253 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1889   |   razed 1966
St. Louis County Jail (first)   |   614 E. 3rd St.   |   1889   |   razed 1954
DFD Engine House #1   |   101 E. 3rd St.   |   1889   |   extant
Duluth City Hall (first)   |   132 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
Duluth Police Headquarters & Jail   |   126 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
Johnson Block   |   323 W. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
West Duluth Village Hall   |   531 Central Avenue   |   1888   |   extant
Homes
Melvin & Ida Forbes House   |   530 2nd St.   |   1886   |   razed ca. 1966
Charles & Edna Arthur House   |   230 E. 4th St.   |   1886   |   extant
Buckingham Terrace (townhouses)   |   18-30 W. 3rd St.   |   1887   |   extant
Salter Terrace (townhouses)   |   301-307 E. 3rd St.   |   1887   |   extant
Pastoret Terrace° (townhouses)   |   129-131 E. 1st St.   |   1887   |   extant
Henry & Alameda Bell House°   |   600 E. 2nd St.   |   1887   |   extant
William & Alice Billson House   |   1531 E. 1st St.   |   1887   |   extant
James & Persis Norton House   |   1131 E. Superior St.   |   1887   |   razed ca. 1933
William & Sarah McGonagle House   |   129 N. 12th Ave. E.   |   1888   |   extant
Archibald & Anna McLean House   |   3 E. 4th St.   |   1888   |   razed 1939
Matthew & Lucy Harrison House   |   2605 Greysolon Rd   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1935
Charles & Ella Barker House   |   501 W. 2nd St.   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1907
Osmond & Emilie Hoyt House   |   1119 E. 1 st St.   |   1889   |   razed ca. 1980
George & Mary Howe House   |   1421 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   extant
Guilford & Caroline Hartley   |   1305 E. Superior St.   |   1889   |   razed 1954
August & Clara Fitger House   |   639 E. 1st St.   |   1889   |   extant
Roger & Olive Munger House* • 405 Mesaba Ave. • 1871 • razed 1955
Roger & Olive Munger carriage house* • 402 W. 5th St. • 1871 • extant

°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable

*The Munger house and carriage house were emodeled by Traphagen in 1889, original architect unknown; both Traphagen’s and the original architect’s work on the carriage house are unrecognizable today

Duluth Buildings designed by Oliver Traphagen & Francis Fitzpatrick, 1890 – 1896

Commercial/Public Buildings
Phoenix Block   |   333 W. Superior   |   1890   |   burned 1995
Fitger Brewery Boiler House   |   600 E. Superior St.   |   1890   |   extant
A W. Wieland Store°   |   123 W. Superior St.   |   1890   |   extant
Hoppmann Building   |   421 W. Superior St.   |   1890   |   razed 1966
Lester Park Hotel   |   6003 London Rd   |   1890   |   razed 1902
Costello Block (second)   |   22 E. Superior St.   |   1891   |   razed 2007
Lyceum Theater   |   423-431 W. Superior St.   |   1891   |   razed 1966
First Presbyterian Church   |   300 E. 2nd St.   |   1891   |   extant
Incline Pavilion   |   5th Ave. W. & Skyline Pkwy   |   1891   |   burned 1901
Duluth Shoe Co./Duluth Dry Goods Co.   |   Foot of 6th Ave. W.   |   1891   |   burned 1899
Selleck Block   |   631 W. Michigan St.   |   1891   |   razed ca. 1905
Charlotte Wells Store   |   913-915 W. Michigan St.   |   1891   |   razed ca. 1938
Hardy Hall   |   2000 Woodland Avenue   |   1891   |   razed 1902
Torrey Building   |   314-316 W. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
Boyle Brothers Saloon & Restaurant   |   319 W. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
Duluth Street Railway Co. Barn   |   2601-2619 W. Superior St.   |   1892   |   razed 1984
Duluth Driving Park   |   Woodland between Wabasha & Winona   |   1892   |   razed ca. 1907
Herald Building   |   220 W. Superior St.   |   1893   |   extant
Mesaba Block   |   407-409 W. Superior St.   |   1893   |   razed ca. 1965
Stone-Ordean Warehouse   |   203-211 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1893   |   razed 1966
St. Louis Hotel (second)   |   318-324 W. Superior St.   |   1893   |   razed 1932
Sagar Drug   |   225-227 S. 5th Ave. W.   |   1893   |   razed 1966
Crane Ordway Building   |   8-10 E. Michigan St.   |   1894   |   razed ca. 1980
Board of Trade Building (second)   |   301 W. First Street   |   1895   |   extant
Fitger’s Brewery Settling Room   |   600 E. Superior St.   |   1896   |   extant
Homes
Philadelphia Terrace (townhouses)   |   1412-20 E. Superior St.   |   1890   |   razed ca.1984
Chester Terrace (townhouses)   |   1212-1228 E. First St.   |   1890   |   extant
Clinton & Kate Markell House   |   325 E. 2nd St.   |   1890   |   razed 1961
Alonzo & Julia Whiteman House   |   2732 London Rd   |   1890   |   razed ca. 1912
James Norton Rental House   |   1120 E. First St.   |   1891   |   razed 2011
James Norton Rental House   |   1124 E. First St.   |   1891   |   razed 2011
Alexander Miles Rental House   |   301 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
Alexander Miles Rental House   |   303 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
Alexander Miles Rental House   |   305 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
Alexander Miles Rental House   |   307 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
Alexander Miles Rental House   |   309 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   razed ca. 1980
Alexander Miles Rental House   |   311 W. 4th St.   |   1891   |   extant
Unnamed Residence   |   1001 E. Superior St.   |   1891   |   razed
Henry & Lizzie Blume House   |   1419 E. 2nd St.   |   1891   |   extant
Myron & Mary Bunnell House   |   1306 E. Superior St.   |   1892   |   razed ca. 1960
William & Josephine Magie House   |   1401 E. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
Oliver & Amelia Traphagen House   |   1511 E. Superior St.   |   1892   |   extant
Munger Terrace (townhouses)   |   405 Mesaba Ave. (orig. 411-413 Mesaba)   |   1892   |   extant
Townsend & Mayme Hoopes House   |   2206 Woodland Ave.   |   1892   |   razed 1938
William & Amelia Sherwood House   |   2535 Woodland Ave.   |   1892   |   razed ca. 1956
Charles & Maude Towne House   |   2334 Woodland Ave.   |   1892   |   extant
Hamilton & Martha Peyton House   |   1329 E. Superior St.   |   1893   |   razed 1932
Charles & Louise Schiller House   |   1420 E. 2nd St.   |   1893   |   extant
George & Jessica Spencer House   |   302 Sixteenth Ave. E.   |   1893   |   extant   |
Elmer & Lizzie Matter House   |   314 E. 2nd St.   |   1894   |   razed, (date unk.)

°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable

Non-Duluth Buildings designed by Oliver Traphagen & Francis Fitzpatrick, 1890 – 1896

Commercial/Public Buildings
Tuohy Mercantile   |   1515 N. First St., Suprior, WI   |   1895   |   extant
P.R. L. Hardenbergh & Co. Building   |   25-239 E. Eight St., St. Pul, MN   |   1895   |   razed by 1989

Buildings in Hawaii designed by Oliver Traphagen, 1898 – 1907

Commercial/Public Buildings
Haleiwa Hotel   |   North Shore, Oahu   |   1898   |   razed, ca. 1952
McChesney & Sons Building   |   42 Queen St.   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
Judd Building   |   Corner Fort & Merchants St.   |   1899   |   extant
Elite Building   |   Fort St.   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
Boston Block   |   Fort St, near Queen   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
Sprekels Block (First Bank of Hilo)   |   30 Kalakaua St, Hilo   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
Palama Fire House   |   North King St.   |   1900   |   extant
Mcintyre Building   |   corner King & Fort Streets   |   1900   |   razed
Kaka’ako Pumping Station    |   500 Ala Moana Blvd   |   1900   |   extant
Moana Hotel   |   2365 Kalakaua   |   1901   |   extant
Mendonca Building Hotel   |   Smith & Maumakea   |   1901   |   extant
Collins Harness Maker   |   82-84 S. King St.   |   1901   |   razed
E. O. Hall & Sons Building   |   corner King & Fort Streets   |   1902   |   razed 1966
Waity Building   |   74 S.King St   |   1902   |   razed
Lewers & Cooke Building   |   King St. between Fort & Alakea   |   1902   |   razed
Hackfeld Building   |   745 Fort St.   |   1902   |   razed after 1967
Queen’s Hospital Wing/Dr.’s cottage   |   Ala Moana St.   |   1903   |   razed
O’Neil Building corner   |   Corner, Fort & King Streets   |   1903   |   razed
Odd Fellows Hall   |   Fort St. near King St.   |   1903   |   razed after 1967
Cooper-Cartwright Building   |   Fort & King Streets   |   1903   |   razed
McLean Building   |   Nuuanu St.   |   1904   |   extant
Oahu Prison   |   Oahu   |   1904   |   extant
Immigration Station   |   Ala Moana   |   1905   |   razed ca. 1934
Electric Light Plant   |   Nuuana Valley   |   1905   |   unknown
Crematorium   |   Nuuana Cemetery   |   1905   |   extant
Hilo Jail   |   Punahela St., Hilo   |   1905   |   extant
State Archives Building   |   State Capitol Grounds   |   1906   |   extant
Homes
C B Reynolds House   |   1040 Green St.   |   1898   |   razed (date unk.)
C B Reynolds House   |   Green St., exact address unknown   |   1899   |   razed (date unk.)
George & Helen Carter House   |   corner Liliha & Judd St.   |   1901   |   razed
August Drier House   |   Beretania St.   |   1902   |   razed
Punahou President’s House   |   1601 Punahou   |   1907   |   extant
James & Mabel Castle House   |   2933 Kalakaua St.   |   unk.   |   razed 1959

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