231 E. First St. | Architect: Unknown | Built: 1926 | Lost: ca. 1963
Archibald M. Eagles, Einar T. Johnson, Mark Crasswaller, and Herbert A. Lewis opened their first three Harbor City Oil filling stations in 1926 with one in West Duluth at 4902 Grand Avenue, another near the junction of Mesaba Avenue and Michigan Street at the base of Point of Rocks, and a third in downtown Duluth on First Street, near both the 1870 and 1889 First Presbyterian Churches, as the photo above illustrates. The company initially sold Valvoline petroleum products and Kelly tires.
The First Street facility was called Harbor City’s “Super Service” filling station and, as its name implied, it both repaired vehicles and provided fuel for them. The Classical Revival–influenced building’s eastern half contained its retail operation while the western portion held three bays for servicing vehicles. Faced with alternating courses of brick and stone, the building featured a pediment over its customer entrance at the center of the building. An ornate, free-standing awning stood over its three gas pumps.
The same style of awning was used to protect motorists from rain while they were filling up at the Michigan Street Harbor City Station. A large model of a lighthouse rose from the center of its roof, a whimsical feature similar in style to Lake Superior’s Split Rock Lighthouse. The feature may not have been included when the facility first opened, as the awning suggests that the building may have originally looked more like a smaller version of Harbor City’s Super Service facility on First Street. The Michigan Street station traded hands by 1940, becoming Peterson & Polaski Service Station. Five years later it was operating as the Texaco Lighthouse Service Station. In the 1950s it operated as Lighthouse Conoco before being demolished in 1956.
By 1946 the Super Service station had become Howard’s Standard Service. The facility changed hands twice in the 1950s, becoming Peterson Gas Station and then Emmet’s Standard Service before it was demolished in 1963. The one-story building constructed to replaced the station has been home to a variety of businesses, but was sitting vacant in January 2022 when this book was completed.