Hayes Block

The Hayes Block photographed in the 1870s. (Image: Duluth Public Library)
30-38 East Superior Street | Architect: Unknown | Built: 1870
Remodeled 1906 (William A. Hunt, Architect), 1923, and 2007

Duluth’s second brick building (the first was Branch’s Hall) was built in 1870 by William K. Rogers and Rutherford B. Hayes, who was governor of Ohio at that time. Hayes served as U. S. President from 1871 to 1881, with King serving as his personal secretary.  After his presidency Hayes visited Duluth several times to see King and other friends who had moved to Duluth from Ohio. Rogers helped create Duluth’s park system, including Skyline Parkway, which was fist named “Roger’s Bouelvard.”

In its early days the Hayes Building served as Duluth’s post office, the Masonic Lodge Hall, the city administrative offices, custom house and municipal court. At times it had a grocery, flour and feed store, jewelers, pharmacy, and photography stores.

In a 1906 remodeling the Hayes Block lost its third story, was enlarged to the west, and had original windows replaced. It was remodeled again in in 1923 and once more in 2007. That same year the Wieland Block was also restored, and today the buildings are known together as the Wieland Block, although neither would be recognized by those who built the original structures.

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This is a two-story variegated brown brick commercial block with a roughly square plan sited on a sloping lot at the intersection of Superior Street and First Avenue East, resulting in a third story on the rear or south façade. The primary façade on Superior Street was heavily altered in 1923, and this remains largely intact at the upper story.

The façade originally was divided into four bays creating four storefronts, and portions of a cast iron storefront are still visible in places. Additional alterations at the storefront level were made at an unknown date, resulting in the installation of new aluminum frame storefront windows and doors, combined with new vertical wood siding and metal panels covering the transoms and ceramic tile bulkheads that have largely obscured the original configuration of the first floor and its materials, however. The second floor also is divided into four large bays by broad, flat brick piers. A single, wide recessed brick panel in each bay forms a frame for three window openings containing a 1/1 double hung wood frame window. The windows sit on a continuous red sandstone sill that extends the width of the north façade and continues onto the east façade. The upper edge of each recessed panel is decorated with a series of fifteen vertical brick corbels that soften the transition back to the plane of the façade.

Two continuous horizontal stepped string courses lead to a broad brick fascia below a projecting metal cornice supported by a row of small brackets.

The detailing of the north façade wraps the corner onto the secondary east façade and forms one storefront bay at the north end. The only deviation from the north façade is a reduction in the size of the second floor bay to two 2/2 double hung wood frame window. The remainder of the façade is divided into six bays with a basement level sloping down to a full story at the rear. Three of the window openings at the north end of the basement have been infilled with glass block, but the south end retains original 2/1 double hung wood frame windows. The first and second floors are divided into six bays which are filled with window pairs. The four northern pairs on the first floor are small 1/1 double hung wood frame windows, while the southern two pairs are much larger 2/2 double hung wood frame windows with a two-light transom. All six pairs of windows on the second floor are 2/2 double hung wood frame windows. Every window pair on the east façade has a simple red sandstone sill. A series of vertical brick corbels supports a band of brick that functions as the parapet with a simple red sandstone coping.

Sources:

  • Dierckins, Tony and Maryanne C. Norton. Lost Duluth: Landmarks, Industries, Buildings, Homes, and the Neighborhoods in Which They Stood. Zenith City Press, Duluth, Minnesota: 2012.
  • Koop, Michael. “National Register of Historic Places Registration for the Duluth Commercial Historic District.” Minnesota State Office of Historic Preservation, St. Paul: 2005.