Poirier’s Boots and Shoes

1 West Superior Street | Architect: Frederick German and John deWaard | Built: 1884  | Extant

This is a three-story red brick commercial building located on a sloping rectangular site at the northwest corner of Superior Street and Lake Avenue. The primary façade faces south onto Superior Street, with the first floor devoted to a retail storefront, and the upper two floors originally functioning as housing. The original storefront system was altered at an unknown date when the central-entry configuration was modified to create two separate storefronts each with their own entry. A recent renovation in 2003 has resulted in the insertion of new aluminum storefront window systems, transoms, and entry doors, new tile bulkheads, and a new wood cornice at the first floor supported by decorative brackets. On the interior, only the eastern half retains its original pressed tin ceiling.

The second floor is separated into three bays, with a larger central window flanked by two narrower windows. Originally the window units were wood frame 1/1 double hung with multi-light transom, brick arch heads and simple limestone sills. All windows have been replaced throughout the building during a recent renovation in 2003, and the large central window at the second floor was replaced by a new bay window with a metal panel roof. The third floor was pierced by four 1/1 wood frame double hung windows with brick arch heads in the original configuration, but alterations in 2003 removed the central two windows and replaced them with a single, large fixed aluminum frame unit. As it was designed, a series of twenty-one brick corbels composed of four progressively stepped brick stretchers capped the third floor below a simple parapet. The original brick parapet was enlivened only by four rectangular brick panels inset above the (original) third floor windows. This arrangement was modified to its current configuration in 2003, which removed the corbelling and added a limestone string course. This is capped by a simple brick parapet with three inset panels and a metal coping. All of brick on the south façade appears to have been repainted as part of the most recent renovation, most likely to mask the alterations to the brick masonry.

The common brick east façade also was altered as part of the recent renovation. The most significant change is the 2005 addition of a concrete block elevator and stair tower at the rear of the building on the northeast corner. The entries at the first floor level have been replaced with new doors, sidelights and transoms, and the northernmost window openings infilled with glass block. At the second and third floors, all 17 window openings have new aluminum frame 1/1 single hung windows. The northern two-thirds of the building retains the original corbelled brick detailing at the cornice, while the southern third has been altered to mimic the detailing of the south façade.

Sources:

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