Good Fellowship Club
242 88th Avenue West | Architects: Dean & Dean | Built: 1917 | Lost: 1981
In 1916 U.S. Steel announced that its plans for Morgan Park would include a clubhouse that, like most of the community’s buildings, would be made of concrete and designed by Dean & Dean Architects in a modified Prairie Style. Named for it ambitions to make Morgan Park a model community, the Good Fellowship Club—essentially one long core structure with four extending wings—stood two stories tall and was faced with stucco. Tower buttresses supported its walls, and its basement was built with half of it above ground to allow more natural light within. It was capped by a red tile roof and surrounded by formal gardens and sports courts. The building featured a large eighteen-by-forty-four-foot observation porch that provided a panoramic view of much of the neighborhood’s residential area as well as the Morgan Park Boat Club facility on Spirit Lake, and “up the river…nearly to Fond du Lac.”
The building included a gymnasium, an elevated running track, a cafeteria, three bowling lanes, shower and locker facilities, a swimming pool, a billiard and pool hall, a darkroom for amateur photographers, and an auditorium with seating for 480 people that also included a stage and a projector booth so it could become a dance hall, movie house, or stage theater. The building included three separate shower and lounge sections for men, women, and youths, each with its own reading room outfitted with an open fireplace. It included a kitchen and dining room that sat 138 persons. According to the Duluth Herald, “The color scheme has been well worked out and simplicity and harmony is the keynote throughout the building. The prevailing color of the woodwork and chairs is grey green, the walls finished in various harmonizing soft colors.”
Outdoor amenities on the club’s eight acres of surrounding land included lawns for bowling and croquet and courts for a variety of sports including handball, volleyball, basketball, and tennis.
The Duluth Herald reported that more than four hundred people attended the building’s opening on January 24, 1918, and danced until midnight to music played by the Morgan Park Band. The Good Fellowship Club soon became the center of social life in Morgan Park, and residents paid just $1.50 per month for membership dues.
In 1931, when Morgan Park opened up to non–USS employees, the building’s ownership was transferred to the City of Duluth. By 1968 membership had sharply declined, but the facility remained open for another twelve years. When the city decided to demolish the club, the Minnesota Historical Society stepped in to try to protect it, arguing that it was a contributing building to larger historic district: all of Morgan Park. The Duluth News Tribune, however, agreed with city officials, called the building “an albatross.” In October 1981 the historical society gave up its fight, and city officials had the building demolished. Many residents of Morgan Park later regretted the loss, and a smaller community center was built on the same location.