DPL Lester Park Branch

106 North 54th Avenue East | P. M. Olson, Architect | Built: 1926 | Closed: 1998

Duluth’s library board opened stations in growing Lakeside and Lester Park in 1913. The Lakeside station was a room within Lakeside School and only offered books for children. Lester Park’s library, first housed in a grocery store on East Superior Street, moved to another facility by 1916. That site closed in 1917 as a new home was being built for it within the new Lester Park Elementary School, then under construction. The new school included an exterior entrance directly to the library so it could remain open to the public when the school was closed. By 1925 it housed three thousand books. The library board chose to build a branch library to serve both Lester Park and Lakeside in 1925.

Designed by Peter Olsen, the building is a very simple yet elegant one-story Colonial Revival design that features two eyebrow dormer windows peaking out of its side-gabled roof along the front façade on Fifty-Fourth Avenue East. The main entrance features a portico supported by square columns, and modillions adorn the roofline below the eaves while the entire building is faced in red brick. A single wing protrudes from the back of the building and originally held an office, bathroom, and kitchen. The rest of the library was one large room; architect Frederick German outfitted its interior. Despite public opposition, the City of Duluth closed the Lester Park and Woodland branch libraries in 1998, consolidating them in a new facility in the Mount Royal Shopping Center. The Lakeside–Lester Park Community Club—organized to fight the library’s closing—then purchased the former library building for $500. The building continues to serve the neighborhood as the Lakeside–Lester Park Community Center.

Lester Park Branch of the Duluth Public Library. (Image: Zenith City Press)