Wieland Block

26 East Superior Street | Architect: Oliver G. Traphagen | Built: 1889 | Extant

This four-story red pressed brick building was designed in 1889 as a furniture store, later becoming the Savoy, a new 5¢ theater opened by R.H. Hatfield of Chicago, for “moving pictures and illustrated songs.” From 1901- 1930 it functioned as the home of the Duluth News Tribune newspaper. It has a rectangular footprint and common brick sidewalls that are exposed above the third floor. The primary façade fronts onto Superior Street and is divided into three bays, the center bay being recessed and expressing a slight convex curve. At the first floor level the building has been altered through the application of black and white Cararra glass panels, most of which have been removed from the upper half of the floor exposing the four original rusticated red sandstone block piers and large red sandstone heads decorated with Eastlake abstracted rosettes and floral banding. The head in the central bay has a slight convex curve, while the heads of the outer two bays are straight. The lower half of the first floor appears to retain the original configuration of large storefront windows in the outer bays on either side of a recessed entry in the center bay. Cararra glass is still in place on the lower part of the piers, and the windows and doors have been replaced with new aluminum frame units with black Cararra bulkheads.

Four flat brick piers with rounded corners, foliated unglazed terra cotta capitals, and rusticated red sandstone bases define the three bays of the second floor. The outer bays hold two massive fixed wood frame windows topped by arched transoms. The heads are formed from brick arches that converge at the top of a central brick pier capped with an unglazed terra cotta triangular panel sculpted with abstracted floral motifs. The central bay is subdivided by five narrow brick piers with rusticated red sandstone blocks serving as both bases and capitals.
Each of the four narrow bays holds a tall 1/1 wood double hung window with a massive rough-faced red sandstone head block carved with a narrow egg-and-dart molding that merges to create a continuous decorative course across the center bay. Each of the three bays is separated from the upper floor by a narrow band of unglazed molded terra cotta that forms the base for the plain red sandstone sill blocks of the windows at the third floor. The scale, placement, and number of the fenestration is maintained from the second floor, but the forms are slightly altered. Two fixed wood frame windows with a three-light rectangular transom fill the outer bays, topped by massive rusticated red sandstone heads set below a terra cotta egg-and-dart brick molding. Many of the details of the center bay are identical to those of the second floor, with the addition of a convex red sandstone fascia above the window heads that is carved with a symmetrical banner detail.

As the visual “cap” of the building, the fourth floor assumes a more delicate scale for its fenestration and a lighter touch in the detailing. Four squat brick piers with rounded corners and unglazed terra cotta Corinthian capitals determine the edges of the three larger bays, with narrow versions of these same piers and capitals creating the internal divisions within each bay. Echoing the lower floors, the central bay is again divided to accommodate four narrow 1/1 double hung windows, with the difference that the windows are slightly recessed from the plane of the main façade and they exhibit a half-round arch in the upper sash. The capitals of the intermediary piers function as the spring point for the brick arch heads over each window opening. An arched terra cotta molding with an egg-and-dart motif provides the transition from the brick arch heads back to the plane of the primary façade. The outer bays mimic the central bay, but contain only three window openings each. A pressed metal cornice completes the façade at the fourth floor, with a palmette motif cast in relief across the broad fascia. A low brick parapet also reflects the character of the bays below, separated by low square brick columns topped by square terra cotta caps with an egg-and-dart molding. A series of recessed and corbelled rectangles punctuate the façade of the parapet, which is covered by a rough red sandstone coping.

Sources:

  • Koop, Michael. “National Register of Historic Places Registration for the Duluth Commercial Historic District.” Minnesota State Office of Historic Preservation, St. Paul: 2005.
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