Duluth Central High School

Duluth Central high School. (Image: Zenith City Press)
Lake Avenue & East 2nd Street | Architects: Emmet S. Palmer & Lucien P. Hall | Built: 1892 | Extant

Most everyone who has visited Duluth knows Old Central — its 230-foot clock tower rises above downtown and simply cannot be ignored. The Romanesque brownstone building is modeled after the Allegheny Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The building ceased operating as a school in 1971 and is now home to the Duluth School District’s administrative offices. It was featured in the 1980s movie Iron Will, filmed in Duluth. In his description of Old Central’s stone gargoyles, architectural historian James Allen Scott wrote that “about the cavernous entrance in the tower angelic cherubs lovingly smile while overhead grotesque animal figures leer their prurient intents.” Those figures were carved by Duluth’s master stone artisan, Norwegian immigrant O. George Thrana. The building’s brownstone came from Fond du Lac’s Krause Quarry and other quarries along the Wisconsin south shore. A tradition at Old Central held for seniors to climb the clock tower and sign their names on its walls.

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