St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1913)

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church ca. 1930, photographer unknown. [Image: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church]

1710 East Superior Street | Architect: Bertram Goodhue | Built: 1913 | Extant

Completed in late fall 1869 at 209 Lake Avenue North, the wood-framed, Gothic Revival–inspired St. Paul’s Episcopal stood as Duluth’s first dedicated church building, holding its first service on Christmas Day of that year. Church founder George Sargent came to Duluth to act as Jay Cooke’s representative. He named the Church St. Paul’s in recognition of the Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, church Cooke considered his home parish—but everyone else called it “Jay Cooke’s Church.” The building served Duluth’s Episcopalians until 1912 when the congregation, many of whom had moved to the city’s eastern end, chose to construct a new church.

The congregation had purchased lots at Superior Street and Seventeenth Avenue East for a new church in 1909. This caused some issues, as it was within the territory Bishop John Morrison had established for Trinity Cathedral in 1905. To keep the peace among the city’s Episcopalians, Morrison abolished the division in 1911, and thereafter Episcopalians throughout the Zenith City could worship at whichever edifice they chose.

St. Paul’s hired New York architects Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, known for their English Gothic Revival ecclesiastic and education designs. Bertram Goodhue himself drew up the plans. Goodhue had been brought to Duluth by Guilford Hartley, who sat on the building committees of both St. Paul’s and the Kitchi Gammi Club and also hired Goodhue for two private commissions. Considered a stunning example of neo-Gothic design—a hybrid of English Gothic and Tudor Revival—the church is faced in native stone quarried at Lake Avenue and First Street and trimmed with Bedford limestone. Its features include a crenelated central bell tower, tower buttresses, and lancet windows divided with stone tracery.

The church’s altar was donated by banker Frederick W. and his wife Emilie Sargent Paine as a memorial to the Sargent family. Its baptismal font commemorates Joshua B. Culver, another church founder and Duluth’s first mayor. The Paines’ children, F. Rodney Paine and Mary Paine Warton, donated the tower’s pealing bells. The first service was held on May 11, 1913. (The 1869 building was demolished in June 1925.) In 1928 the congregation began construction of a four-story parish house to house all of the church’s auxiliary departments. It too is faced with native stone, and its design fits seamlessly with Goodhue’s work. In 2019 St. Paul’s celebrated its sesquicentennial and continues to serve Duluth Episcopalians today.

The 1913 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church photographed by Dennis O’Hara in 2009. (Image: Northern Images)