MacFarlane House

The MacFarlane House shown in an 1891 photo etching by lithographer F. B. Schuchardt. [Image: Duluth Public Library]

801 West 1st Street | Architect: Unknown | Built: 18983 | Lost: 1911

Angus MacFarlane spent much of his life counting money. He went to work for the National Bank of Scotland in his hometown of Stornaway in 1862 when he was fourteen years old. Sixteen years later he struck out for the New World, first to Canada before arriving in Duluth in 1879 to work for fellow Scot John Hunter’s struggling Duluth Savings Bank. Newspapers called MacFarlane the “prime mover” of Hamilton Peyton’s effort to reorganize Hunter’s bank as the American Exchange Bank. So when MacFarlane asked for the hand of Hunter’s daughter Catherine in 1881, it is highly likely that Mr. Hunter approved. Angus and Catherine married in January 1882, and by the end of summer moved into their new home between Eighth and Ninth Avenues East along Bench Street, later renamed Superior Street.

The MacFarlane’s house was one of the earliest of many Queen Ann Victorians constructed in Duluth (and across the country) in the 1880s and 1890s. The stick structure featured an octagonal corner tower with a partially exposed viewing deck, a large wrap-around porch, and balconies along the second floor. The tower and western balcony featured balustrades with carved quatrefoils, symbolic of good luck. The house was also outfitted with double triangular Anglo-Saxon windows positioned within the gables, a pediment-capped entrance portico leading to the porch, and a greenhouse along its north side.

In the early 1890s MacFarlane and his brothers-in-law Ronald and James Hunter invested in real estate, creating the “streetcar suburbs” of Waverly Park, Glen Avon, and Hunter’s Park, all of which bear street names inspired by Scottish geography, literature, and the Hunter and MacFarlane families. MacFarlane owned most of Glen Avon, which he named in reference to Scotland’s glens and England’s Avon River. In 1891 the MacFarlane family—including daughters Anna, Catharine, Bessie, and Agnes—moved into a new house and farm they had built near Lewis Street and Columbus Avenue, right on Tischer Creek. Angus MacFarlane passed away in 1908, while Catharine was 103 years old when she died in 1962. Their 1882 house was demolished in 1911 to make room for a new Kitchi Gammi Club.