Duluth Clinic

The Duluth Clinic ca. 1945, photographer unknown. [Image: Minnesota Historical Society]

205 W. Second St. | Architect: Chalmers Agnew | Built: 1928 | Extant

The Duluth Clinic was organized in 1915 by a group of physicians—working out of the fifth floor of the Fidelity Building at 12 West Superior Street—that included Edward L. Tuohy and William A. Coventry. Tuohy, the group’s principal organizer, later humbly recalled their early days: “We were never presumptuous enough to aim, as our local critics acclaimed, to become another Mayo Clinic.” In 1919 they took over the Fidelity Building’s entire sixth and seventh floors. Six years later the Fidelity Building didn’t have enough space to contain the growing clinic.

In 1928 the organization constructed its own building at the northwest corner of Second Avenue West and Second Street. The group hired architect Chalmers Agnew to create a three-story, red-and-brown brick building trimmed in stone and modestly adorned with Tudor Revival elements, such as a castellated roofline and an oriel window along a protruding pier at the eastern end of the Second Street façade. Quoins accent the corners of the rectangular windows along the second and third floors, and the prominent eastern pier is crowned with a shield-like stone frieze carrying a caduceus. Its Second Street entryway, and the windows on either side of it, were originally capped with segmental arches, and a stone frieze above the door on the second floor level that read “Duluth Clinic.”

Inside, the building’s first floor originally contained a lobby, business office, pharmacy, and urology and x-ray departments. The top two floors contained more departments including surgery; internal medicine; OB-GYN; pediatrics; and eye, ear, nose and throat. A dental clinic was added the next year, and by 1929 the facility was receiving patients from throughout northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. In 1945 the expanding clinic added an entire fourth floor and a partial fifth floor to the building. Twelve years later the growing clinic hired Melander and Associates to design a five-story addition to the building’s western end.

The clinic kept growing. In 1973 its medical staff boasted 56 physicians and 230 paramedical personnel. That year it announced plans for a new facility along the lower side of East Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues East, adjacent to both St. Mary’s Hospital and Miller-Dwan Hospital. The building was completed in 1975, after which the clinic vacated the Second Street facility.
The old clinic became the home of St. Louis County Child Support Collections before being converted into an office building called Arrowhead Place in 1980, which has since housed St. Louis County Social Services and a variety of small businesses.