Brautigan Gardens

Architect Karl Leurzer moved to Duluth in 1889, canoeing with his painting equipment and a friend all the way from Cleveland, Ohio. He had been lured to the Zenith City because his nephew Feodor von Leurzer, along with John Frey, had been hired by August Fitger and Percy Anneke to paint murals in their Fitger’s Brewery Saloon (later renamed the Pickwick).

While in Duluth, Karl Leurzer married the daughter of Adolph Brautigan. Brautigan owned Duluth’s first amusement park, Brautigan Gardens, which sat along the Lake Superior shore below London Road between Twenty-Ninth and Thirty-First Avenues East. The park became a popular gathering place for Duluth’s social organizations, lodges, and churches. From downtown Duluth families rode in horse-drawn buggies, walked, and often pushed baby carriages through two-and-a-half miles of what was still wilderness to visit the Gardens. Brautigan’s Gardens boasted an array of activities, including an outdoor bowling lane (pictured below), a variety of equipment for gymnasts, a shooting gallery, an open-air dancing pavilion, a German-style beer garden, and an outdoor theater. In the winter Brautigan set up an outdoor curling rink.

Leurzer built the Gardens’ outdoor theater and painted beautiful murals inside several homes on the property. His talents were recognized throughout Duluth, and he was commissioned by the Robert B. Whiteside family to paint their famous grove of Redwood Trees (see page 22). Brautigan accidentally killed himself October 28, 1895, when he tripped while attempting to shoot a hawk. Shortly thereafter, the Gardens closed permanently, and Leurzer and his wife moved to Idaho.

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