Duluth Curling Club
From Lost Duluth: Landmarks, Industries, Buildings, Homes, and the Neighborhoods in Which They Stood, copyright © 2011, Zenith City Press, Duluth, Minnesota.
1330 London Road
Built: 1912 | Lost: 1984
Architect: Frederick G. German
With so many of its affluent residents hailing from Scotland or of Scottish ancestry, Duluth became a natural home for the sport of curling. In 1891 the Duluth Curling & Skating Club organized and began building Duluth’s first curling rink on the foundation of Elevator A’s ruins at Third Avenue East and Michigan Street. Curlers were so anxious to begin they couldn’t wait for the facility — little more than two retaining walls and a tent — so they cleared some snow on St. Louis Bay at the foot of Eighth Avenue West and threw their first stone on Christmas Day 1891. The Third Avenue East rink hardly hosted a game; it was destroyed in a 1892 blizzard.
For the next twenty years curling in Duluth took place in several other buildings, including a makeshift facility at Wallace Avenue and Arrowhead Road. In 1897 the club built a rink near Third Avenue East and Michigan Street and played there until the construction of its grand facility at 1338 London Road. Designed by Frederick C. German, the Duluth building was the largest curling club in the world when it opened on January 12, 1913. Its lower level boasted twelve sheets of ice and seating for three thousand spectators.The second level was open to ice skating and hockey in winter and roller skating in summer. The club had two kitchens, several dining rooms, a lunch counter, locker rooms, and a manager’s living quarters. Besides curling, the facility hosted hockey tournaments, dances, and even a circus or two.
In 1976 the Duluth Curling Club moved into new facilities at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center’s Pioneer Hall. It is the largest curling rink in the world, and the Duluth club itself is second only to the St. Paul club as the largest curling club by membership. Duluth won the men’s national championship in 1964 and 2009 and the women’s in 1984. Its junior women’s team was best in the nation in 2004 and 2007, while the men’s junior team won national championships in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Hibbing Curling Club president Francis “Fran” P. Befera was inducted in the Curling Hall of Fame for his efforts to build the 1976 facility in Duluth.
The 1912 building closed in 1976. It was saved from demolition for the expansion of Interstate 35, but lost in a spectacular fire on June 3, 1984. Its remains were demolished the next year. The space on which it stood is now a parking lot next to Leif Erikson Park’s Rose Garden.