Silberstein & Bondy

The Silberstein-Bondy Building shown sometime between 1902 and 1925. (Image: Duluth Public Library)
9-11 West Superior Street | Architect: George Wirth | Built: 1884 | Altered: 1902 (Frederick German), 1925

This was constructed as the Silberstein and Bondy Dry Goods Company in 1884 by Bernard and Nettie Silberstein, two Hungarian immigrants who settled in Duluth in 1870 and helped to establish the first Jewish Synagogue in Duluth, Temple Emmanuel. Their building continued as the Dry Goods store until 1933, then functioned as a department store until 1983 when it was converted to the Plasma Center. Sited on a large rectangular plot with an elaborate red sandstone façade on the south and common brick sidewalls, this three-story terra cotta building originally was one of a series of elaborate brick and red sandstone Victorian commercial facades that lined the 100 West block of Superior Street. Now only the Bell and Eyster Building and the Wirth Building (also by George Wirth) remain of that early commercial streetwall. The original two-story brick and red sandstone Silberstein Building was altered in 1902 with the addition of a third story. The facade was heavily altered with a façade renovation by architects Giliuson, Ellingsen and Erickson in 1925 which reconfigured the openings, and enclosed the storefront with stucco and terra cotta surrounding new aluminum frame fixed windows and doors. The entire massive carved red sandstone parapet was removed, all of the original 1/1 double hung wood frame windows removed and replaced with new aluminum frame fixed windows with tinted glazing and solid transom panels. But the most significant and dramatic alteration was the application of cream terra cotta to the entire south façade.

At the first floor, only the outer two piers are covered with terra cotta tile and large Corinthian capitals. These support a frieze course bearing dentil bands on the upper and lower edges, and a series of garland swags draped between shields and bucchrania. Following the structure of the building underneath, the second and third floors are divided into three bays by four two-story square pilasters that are covered by terra cotta tile in a running bond pattern. The two outer bays are much smaller than the central bay, which is further subdivided into three bays by two full-width fluted Corinthian pilasters, and two half-width pilasters at the bay edges. Although the central window bay on both floors retains what appears to be an original square cast iron pilaster, all other traces of the original windows have been replaced by new fixed aluminum frame windows with tinted glazing, solid transom panels, and stucco infill. Repeating the motifs of the frieze below, the spandrel panels below the third floor windows are decorated with shields and garland swags. The capitals at the top of the third floor support a plain terra cotta cornice that contains only a dentil course and four molded foliate wreaths. Having removed the large original parapet, what remains is a fairly simple low parapet wall clad in terra cotta tile. The central portion projects slightly, and is wrapped by a wide band of tiles at its upper edge with alternating molded rosettes and garlands. The whole is capped by cream terra cotta coping tile.

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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