Columbus Block

The Columbus Block. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

28–30 West Superior Street | Architect: Peabody & Stearns | Built: 1894 | Altered: 1908, 1955

When the three-story brick Columbus Block opened in 1894, glass and crockery sales firm F. A. Parker & Company moved in as its first tenant. William Pattison purchased the building in 1908 and added two floors that same year. Minnesota Power & Light leased the building in 1924. The firm first organized as the Great Northern Power Company, which in 1906 harnessed the St. Louis River by building the Thompson Dam at the old logging town of Thomson. At the time it powered up, the Thomson Dam was the third largest waterpower plant in the world. In 1955, MP&L purchased the buildings next door to the Columbus at 24 and 26 West Superior Street, razed them, and made a significant addition to the Columbus. The Columbus Block isn’t lost; it is hidden from view: the only visible remnants of the old façade are the building’s rear windows. The firm later dropped the “& Light” from its name. Today Minnesota Power is owned by the Allete Corporation, providing power to 144,000 customers in Northwestern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin.