129 – 131 East 1st Street | Architect: Oliver G. Traphagen | Built: 1887 | Extant: Fire damaged and uninhabitable
Oliver Traphagen designed the six townhouses that made up Pastoret Terrace in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture, which would essentially become his “trademark look” for buildings in Duluth. Built by Michael Pastoret, the two-and-a-half story brick building featured brownstone-trimmed windows, wrought iron details on the roof, small entry porches, and a round corner tower with a tall finial. When construction finished, Pastoret advertised his new townhouse as “costly” to appeal to wealthy professionals, the very type of folks looking for upscale downtown living in a city that was once again experiencing boom times.
By 1924 downtown living had lost its appeal to the wealthy and most of the building’s luxury units became rental apartments. That same year new owners extended the first floor on both East First Street and Second Avenue, added a restaurant, and removed the tower roof.
After Prohibition the restaurant became a tavern and the six townhouses were divided into many apartments — forty by 1961, fifty by 2009. In about 1960 the tavern became the Kozy Bar. When Duluth’s Bowery was destroyed for the Gateway Renewal Project, many of its socially marginalized inhabitants found other places to live — and drink. With extremely low rents and the Kozy Bar right downstairs (and other low-rent taverns nearby) Pastoret Flats became a magnet for many former Bowery residents. Soon the entire building was known simply — and notoriously — as The Kozy.
For many years an overwhelming number of Duluth’s police calls were made in response to incidents at the Kozy or just outside its doors. The building’s most recent owner, Dr. Eric Ringsred, was trying to make it a positive gathering space for his tenants and bar patrons, many of whom suffered from alcoholism, drug abuse, and mental illness and all of whom had little or no income.
That plan went up in flames on November 15, 2010, when a fire started in Unit 32. According to Ringsred, “There was a lot of mischief in that room with drugs.” The flames spread quickly, but tenants made sure no one became trapped inside; firefighters also escorted a few tenants out and saved a cat and a dog. Everyone survived but all lost their homes, the only housing in Duluth they could afford. Rent at the Kozy ranged from $160 to $460 a month.
Unfortunately, Dr. Rinsgred only had liability insurance for the building. As of this writing, Pastoret Flats still stands, but the building is a burned-out ruin and restoration seems unlikely for both structural safety and financial reasons.
At the northwest corner of the intersection of First Street and Second Avenue East are a series of reddish-orange brick Romanesque Revival rowhouses that have since been modified into apartments with a single story bar attached to the First Street façade. Like most Victorian rowhouses of the late nineteenth century, the first floor or loggia of each unit is raised above the street level and accessed by a formal entry stair at the main entries, often covered by a decorative porch or canopy. The lower level usually takes the form of a heavy rusticated base or foundation, and the spaces within were frequently of a utilitarian or service nature. Here the rough-faced red sandstone ashlar masonry of the lower level is obscured by the one-story wood shingle bar that was constructed along the entire south façade and a portion of the east façade.
The composition was originally designed as four rowhouses – one small unit on the western end of the south façade, one very large unit that filled the entire southeast corner, and then two smaller units stepping up the hill to the north. Although all are constructed of reddish-orange brick with sandstone details, and they draw on the same stylistic vocabulary of projecting bays, half-round and segmental arch windows, and brick corbels, care was taken to differentiate each unit in its specific features and detailing. The south façade being the primary face of the building, these units received the most elaborate treatment that includes a pair of matched bays incorporating textured and molded brickwork at the first floor, and a pair of freestanding Corinthian columns supporting half-timbered gables at the second floor. A large three-quarter round turret is the prominent feature at the southwest corner, pierced by numerous window openings at both floors and crowned with a cornice of two rows of vertical corbels and a metal fascia that projects above the masonry, the latter now removed or obscured by alterations. In 1924 the turret roof was removed and an addition across the south façade was constructed.
While the brick masonry and stone details appear to be largely intact, albeit suffering from the effects of moisture damage, very few of the original doors and windows are visible. Most of the windows have been boarded over, partially covered with panels, or replaced with new aluminum frame units and metal panels in multiple configurations. At least one pair of historic wood paneled doors survive at the northernmost entry, but most others were removed and replaced with new wood or metal doors. The projecting metal cornice that faithfully follows the complex plan of curves, flats, and projections is desperately in need of repair and is showing signs of severe deterioration and inappropriate maintenance. The same is true of the low metal roof that caps the cornice, which has failed and detached in some areas.