Lake View Store

Lake View Store ca. 1920, photographer unknown. [Image: UMD Martin Library]

1076 88th Ave. W. | Architects: Dean & Dean | Built: 1918 | Extant

When the Minnesota Steel Company announced it was building a retail store in Morgan Park, it assured readers of Duluth’s newspapers that “it will differ from all other ‘company stores’ on the continent.” The store was simply a necessity, the stories read, as “nowhere…is a manufacturing community such as is Morgan Park so far removed from the center of retail trade stores and shops where the housewife may purchase necessities and other goods in such universal use as to make them almost necessities.”

The remarks were also intended to appease members of Duluth’s established retail community, including Duluth department store owner Isaac Freimuth, who stated that “a company store is the most obnoxious thing on earth.” With this new store, Freimuth and his downtown and West Duluth competitors would lose customers not only from Morgan Park, but likely also from Norton Park, Riverside, Smithville, Gary, New-Duluth, and Fond du Lac.

Another long, rectangular Prairie Style–inspired building constructed of concrete and designed by Dean & Dean, the store’s hipped roof included four triangular dormers. Inside, its mahogany woodwork was likely ignored by the ten thousand people who showed up when the facility first opened on July 20, 1920 as reported by the News Tribune.

The newspaper ticked off the store’s offerings: The first-floor shops sold hardware, household furnishings, sporting goods, meats, vegetables, groceries, notions, men’s furnishings, shoes, dry goods, and drugs. Meats and vegetables were displayed in cooled glass cases, and customers could watch as employees processed fresh ground meat and peanut butter right before their eyes. One floor up, patrons could visit the barber, hairdressing parlor, milliner’s shop, and Park State Bank. The second level also held a pool hall and an auditorium “for use by churches and other organizations.” An ice maker in the basement could produce eight tons of frozen water a day, much of which was intended to be sold to Morgan Park residents. To manage the facility, Charles Z. Wilson was brought in from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he ran another USS-owned retail operation.

The Lake View Store was was not a traditional department store, as it was not an individually owned store with various sections dedicated to specific goods. Rather, it was one building housing a variety of individually owned and operated stores and services, most of whose proprietors had no business ties with USS, including the bank. Many have called it the world’s first indoor shopping mall, a claim often made of Southdale in Edina, Minnesota, built in 1956.

After 1930, when the steel company gave Morgan Park to the city, the store’s affiliation with USS was severed. The building’s interior has since been remodeled, and today each ground-floor business has its own exterior door while the second floor contains apartments.