Ordean House

The Ordean House photographed in 1910 by James Maher. [Image: UMD Martin Library]

2307 E. Superior Steet | Architects: Palmer & Hunt l | Built: 1904 | Extant

When Pennsylvania native Albert Ordean’s father died in 1866, the ten-year-old moved with his mother and sister to Canton, Ohio. Eight years later he went to work for banker, grocery wholesaler, and town founder Isaac Harter. Four years later he and Isaaac Harter Jr. went to Colorado to open a bank in the mining town of Leadville, at one point dressing as a miner and hiding the equivalent of $1.4 million in his clothes to avoid being robbed while on a trip to Denver. In 1883 he married Harter’s youngest daughter, Eliza Louise, who went by her middle name. By then he had left the banking game to work with William Stone selling wholesale groceries in Duluth; the firm would become Stone-Ordean-Wells, for decades the region’s largest grocery wholesaler. Ordean returned to banking in 1887, organizing the Merchant’s National Bank, which merged with other banks to become the First National Bank of Duluth later that year. Ordean served as its president from 1896 until his death 1928, and Louise died four years later. The Ordeans never had children of their own, but were exceedingly generous. Both were supporters of the Duluth Children’s Home and Albert Ordean’s will gave generously to many Duluth charities, churchs and hospitals, but most importantly it helped establish the Albert & Louise Ordean Charity, which still serves the community today as the Ordean Foundation.

The Ordeans’ Georgian Revival home stands three stories tall and was originally faced in red brick. Ionic columns support a porte cochère at the home’s eastern end and the main entrance portico, which is topped with a swan-neck pediment adorned with modillions. A pair of two-story Ionic pilasters flank the portico, appearing to support a triangular gable end carrying a half-circle fan light and lined with modillions below the eaves, and two-story stacked bays rise to the roofline on either side of the entryway. The home’s parapet roof is punctuated by four gabled dormers along the front facade, each carrying a Roman-arch window divided by tracery; five more dormers erupt from the back of the roof, which was originally crowned with a decorative balustrade. Brickwork extending beyond the roofline on the house’s gable ends hides the roof’s gambrel shape. A sweeping veranda surrounded by a limestone balustrade also wrapped around the house’s front and western sides. Like many other estates built in the city’s East End before 1915, a matching carriage house was built adjacent to the main house.

Following Louise’s death, the house sat vacant until the 1940s, when it returned to serving as a single-family residence. Over the years the home has lost its balustrades atop the roof and surrounding the veranda, and spalling had discolored the brick facade, which was painted blue-gray in 2018.

To see modern exterior and interior photographs of this house and learn more about its architecture, visit Twin Ports Past’s post about the house HERE.