Mutual Auto Company

302 East Superior Street | Architect: Frank Young | Built: 1915 | Extant

This low, wide variegated brick storefront with a roughly square footprint sits on the southeast corner of the intersection of Superior Street and Third Avenue East. The bulk of the façade is devoted to the storefront, much of which was altered at an unknown date with the introduction of new aluminum frame fixed windows, aluminum entry doors and sidelights, and vertical wood siding infill into the existing structural framework. Two massive painted cast-iron square piers survive at either end of the north façade, articulated with a simple base and an inset panel. Five slender painted metal columns are equally spaced across the façade, two of which are decorated with an inset panel stamped with and grid of alternating striations. Narrow painted metal ventilation panels in the form of small roman grilles span the interstice between the columns at the ground level, but the original transoms have been covered with plywood paneling and a vinyl awning. The brick masonry above the transom/awning creates frames of dark brown brick to surround three decorative panels filled with a mixture of unglazed multi-color square tiles laid in diagonal patterns with a plaid-like appearance. A projecting cast stone molding separates the panels from the parapet above, with a half round details. The parapet is enlivened by a row of diagonal square tiles alternating with brown brick soldiers, which is sandwiched between two rows of stretchers alternating with smaller square tiles. A final row of brown brick rowlocks completes the wall, which is capped with a cast stone coping.

The west façade shares many of the same features as the primary façade on the north. A steeply sloping sites required a basement level at the rear, which takes the form of an unadorned brown brick wall pierced by small window openings and a large overhead door at the south end. The first floor contains four bays and the façade is delineated in two parts–the northern half continues the storefront configuration seen on the north façade with new vertical wood siding and aluminum windows infilling the original cast iron storefront structure, and plywood and vinyl awnings covering the transom. Four window openings define the southern half of the west façade, with plain cast stone sills and new 1/1 aluminum frame single hung windows. The upper portion of the wall and parapet continue the decorative brickwork from the front face, with four panels instead of three. Two plastic backlit signs have been attached to the face of the brick panels on either side of the northwest corner.

Sources:

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