Glass Block

Duluth’s Glass Block Store, originally Patton & White. (Image: Duluth Public Library)
128 West Superior Street | Architect: McMillen & Radcliffe | Built: 1892 | Lost: 1981

In March of 1887 John Panton and Joseph Watson opened a small, one-room dry goods store on Superior Street near First Avenue West. In November of that year they moved to a larger store at 118 West Superior Street. Their store’s continued success encouraged them to build their own two-story building of red Tiffany brick and sandstone trim in 1892. In 1896 William White took over Watson’s share of the business and the name became Panton and White, but it was called “The Glass Block,” a term used in Minneapolis at the time for dry goods and department stores (Panton learned his trade working for the forerunner of Minneapolis’s Donaldson’s Department store). By 1902 another expansion added three more stories and a classical cornice to what was now called the Panton & White Glass Block Store. When the F. A. Patrick Company purchased the store in 1911, the name officially changed to The Glass Block Store. The new owners installed the Greysolon Tea Rooms with elegant, oak-paneled rooms featuring views of Lake Superior. It was a cornerstone of the Glass Block until 1940, when it relocated.

Glass Block opened a second store in the new Miller Hill Mall in 1973, but continued operation of the downtown facility until 1981 when it closed, much to the dismay of downtown shoppers. The building was demolished to make room for First Bank Duluth; that building is now home to US Bank.

A postcard of the Glass Block building made between 19i5 and 1925. (Image: Zenith City Press)