Endion Elementary

Endion Elementary School shown in an 1891 photo etching by lithographer F. B. Schuchardt. [Image: Duluth Public Library]

1801 East 1st Street | Architect: Adolph F. Rudolph | Built: 1890 | Extant

James Markland, who established the Town of Endion and named it for the Ojibwe word meaning “my, your, or his home,” thought the community he was developing would become a suburb populated by “capitalists doing business at Superior.” In 1870 it became the easternmost portion of the new City of Duluth, although it really didn’t grow until the 1880s and at first became home to wealthy capitalists doing business right there in the Zenith City.

In 1890, anticipating further growth that indeed materialized over the next ten years, Duluth built a monumental Romanesque Revival school designed by Adolph A. Rudolph, who also taught technical drawing at Duluth’s high school. Rudolph positioned the building at a 45 degree angle so it would square along the points of a compass. It is faced with dark-red pressed brick trimmed with contrasting sandstone quarried in Port Wing, Wisconsin, along Lake Superior’s south shore. The building stands two and a half stories high and originally contained twelve classrooms on the first and second floor. It opened in 1891 to students who had been crammed into the undersized Jefferson Elementary.

Endion Elementary was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, and its nomination form describes the unique structure as “two squares…superimposed to form a pinwheel room arrangement with a square central stair hall.” That stair hall was contained within the building’s hexagonal tower, which also includes the building’s main entrance, “comprised of three semi-circular arches set upon low polished granite columns” that lead to a “radiating, three-directional stairway.” The tower’s open belfry was topped with a pointed, hexagonal cap. Bricks set in a checker-board pattern adorn the gables on the unfinished attic level, from which several gabled dormers protrude. The building also features many intricate carvings, often executed in circular motifs.

After a two-story annex built in stages during the summers of 1953 (first floor) and 1962 (second floor), Endion School eventually contained twenty-four rooms, including an office, library, and gymnasium. It hosted students for eighty-seven years before closing its doors in 1977. In 1970 vandals victimized its belfry, which subsequently lead to its removal over safety concerns. In the 1980s the school was converted into the Endion School Apartments and serves as such today.