Costello Block

The Costello Block in a sketch made close to the time it was built. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

22 & 24 East Superior Street | Architect: George Wirth | Built: 1884 | Lost: 2007

Irish immigrant John J. Costello came to Duluth in 1870, when he was fourteen years old, “without a dollar and scarcely a friend,” according to his Duluth Daily News obituary. He worked odd jobs and in lumber camps until becoming a tinsmith for his cousin Richard’s hardware store. Richard left Duluth in 1876, and John took over the business. In 1884 he asked George Wirth to draw plans for a new store specializing in general hardware, stoves, heaters, and works of art for the home. The two-story red brick building was adorned with patterned brickwork, carved Fond du Lac brownstone, and a metal cornice that featured brackets and dentils. Richard returned in 1887, buying back into the business he had started. The store’s size doubled in 1891 when Traphagen & Fitzpatrick duplicated the 1884 plans for a second building on the empty lot immediately west of the building

Costello, also a city alderman, died the following year. From 1896 to 1900 the building was home to Kelley Hardware, which in the early 1920s sponsored of one of the nation’s first professional football teams, the Duluth Kelleys, which later became the National Football League’s legendary Duluth Eskimos. The building later served as a paint store, an appliance shop, an interior décor studio, and Abalan’s Pianos. In April 2007 both sections of the Costello Block were demolished to make room for a condominium.