Bryant Elementary

Bryant Elementary School, date and photographer unknown. [Image: Dale Johnson]

3102 West Third Street | Architects: McMillen & Tenbusch | Built: 1895 | Lost: 1974

The West End continued to grow during the 1890s. While Lincoln Elementary had taken pressure off overcrowded Adams Elementary in 1889, by 1893 it was bursting at the seams itself—as was the nearby four-room 1884 Monroe Elementary. So in 1893 the school board decided to build a new school west of Lincoln and Monroe to serve students living between Twenty-Seventh and Thirty-Fifth Avenues West.

The school was named for American poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant, fitting for a school located near the border between West Duluth and the West End. Bryant defended iimmigrants, supported organized labor, and, as early as 1836, had written about the right for workmen to strike. Western Duluth—particularly the West End, which was filled with immigrant laborers who worked in the industries that grew along the St. Louis River—was Duluth’s incubator for labor activity and the site of several strikes beginning in the late 1880s.

Designed by Charles McMillen and Gerhard Tenbusch, Bryant Elementary was not greeted with the enthusiasm Irving Elementary, built at the same time, received. The Duluth News Tribune called the design “plain,” noting that it had “no tower and few outside decorations” (neither did Irving). Despite its limited adornment, Bryant was in keeping with Duluth’s trend of building Renaissance Revival schools in the 1890s, with a nod to its previous Classical Revival tradition as well. Faced with tan brick and trimmed in dark brownstone, the two-and-a-half-story building sat diagonally on a square lot atop a massive brownstone foundation. Its central entrance, which faced Third Street, featured brownstone double arched. More Roman arches appeared on second floor windows and side entrances. Fourteen dormers protruded from the roof, eight with rectangular windows and gabled roofs and six with arched windows and hipped roofs.

Bryant’s sixteen classrooms served the West End until it was razed in 1974. The lot where the school once stood is now part of an industrial park.