George Wirth

George Wirth. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

George Wirth (1861–1935), a native of Bavaria, Germany, first came to the U. S. in 1869 to study architecture at Cornell College. In 1879 he opened a practice in St. Paul, where he designed many significant homes and commercial buildings. He hired Oliver Traphagen as a carpenter and sent him north to oversee the construction of his designs in Duluth, launching Traphagen’s career in the Zenith City. Wirth never lived in Duluth; In 1886 he returned to Germany.

Wirth designed Duluth’s Grand Opera House, the 1883 Fargusson Block, the Williamson Block, the Costello Block, the Miles Block, the 1885 Board of Trade, and many others (scroll down for a complete list). Only two Wirth buildings remain in Duluth: the 1883 Bell & Eyster Bank at 3 West Superior Street (currently vacant) and the Wirth Building at 13 West Superior Street (home to Lizzard’s Gallery), which he built for his brother Max, a pharmacist. Wirth also did the 1884 Silberstein-Bondy building at 9–11 West Superior Street, and the 1882 Metropolitan Block, 113–119 West Superior Street, but most of his work has been lost to remodelings.

Duluth Buildings designed by George Wirth, 1882 – 1884

Commercial/Public Buildings
Metropolitan Block*°   |   113-119 W. Superior St.   |   1882   |   razed
St. Louis Hotel (first)   |   330 W. Superior St.   |   1882   |   burned 1893
Grand Opera House*   |   333 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   burned 1889
Post Office   |   4th Ave. W. between Superior St. & 1st St.   |   1883   |   razed 1934
Fargusson Building (first)   |   406-408 W. Superior St.   |   1883    |   burned 1892
Portland School (aka Jefferson)   |   916 East 3rd Street   |   1883   |   razed 1891
Bell & Eyster Bank   |   3 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   extant
Haug Brothers Building   |   15 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   razed 1995
St. Louis County Courthouse   |   611 E. 2nd St.   |   1883   |   razed ca.1915
German-American Block   |   209-211 W. Superior St.   |   1883   |   razed 1975
St. Lukes Hospital   |   323 2nd Ave.   |   1884   |   razed by 1930
George & Jessica Spencer House   |   1003 London Road   |   1884   |   razed ca.1905
Silberstein & Bondy Building°   |   9-11 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   extant
Miles Building   |   19 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed ca. 1910
Merchants Hotel   |   202-204 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed 1907
Williamson Block   |   125-127 W. Superior St.   |   1884   |   burned 1953
Miller Block   |   2-4 E. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed (date unk.)
Costello Block (first)   |   24 E. Superior St.   |   1884   |   razed 2007
Wirth Block  |  13 W. Superior St.  |  1886  |  extant
Homes
Albert & Stella Seip House   |   28 W. 3rd St.   |   1884   |   razed ca. 1962

*Construction supervised by Oliver Traphagen
°Remodeled by other architects; original work not recognizable

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

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