Interstate Auto Company

206-214 East Superior Street | Architect: unknown | Built: 1915 | Extant (currently unoccupied)

This is a wide, low, two-story brick building with a rectangular footprint that was constructed for auto insurance. [Most recently it was home to most recently Big Lake Used Book Store and Records and Carlson Books.]

The primary façade has been altered through the introduction of new materials and the application of paint to the masonry. The use of six whole and one partial square brick pillars with square Doric capitals of the same shape and height as those on the adjacent Knudsen Building to the east suggest that these may be companion structures, if not designed at the same time by the same architect, then at least intended to be visually linked in the mind of the viewer. Because the windows of the second floor are set at different heights and the outline of the parapet appears to be in two distinct, but identical, pieces, it is possible that this building was constructed as two separate structures that were joined together, or it was designed as single building intended to house two different functions.

At the first floor, only the opening for the overhead door at the east end and the pressed tin ceiling in the interior appear to be original, while the rest of the façade was modified at an unknown date through the insertion of new aluminum frame fixed windows and doors and plywood panels and signage at the original transoms. A heavy band of stone (now painted) separates the first from the second floor. The pillars mentioned above clearly divide the second floor into three six bays. The western three bays each have a single large opening that is filled by a group of three fixed wood frame windows sitting on what is probably a stone sill. Although different in size from the neighboring Knudsen Building, both the head and the sills of these windows align with those at the second floor of the Knudsen Building, as does the stepped brick corbelling at the top of each bay. The three eastern bays are slightly more irregular in their size, with the two outer bays slightly smaller than the center bay. Two new large fixed wood frame windows appear in the outer bays, and a group of three fixed windows fills the center bay.

The detailing and alignment of the pillar capitals and brick corbelling is maintained in these bays, even though the position and size of the windows diverges from the western bays. A painted stone projecting string course extends the full width of the façade and joins with the similar detail on the Knudsen Building to the west. Twinned stepped brick parapets with a painted metal coping finish the façade.
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From the National Register of Historic Places Registration for the Duluth Commercial Historic District prepared by Mike Koop of the Minnesota State Office of Historic Preservation, 2005.

Sources:

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