Spalding House

The Spalding House shown in an 1891 photo etching by F. B. Schuchardt. [Image: Duluth Public Library].

504 West 2nd Street | Architect: McMillen & Radcliffe | Built: 1888 | Lost: 1908

Born in Towanda, Pennsylvania, in 1820, William Spalding traveled the nation as a young man working in dry goods stores, teaching penmanship, and mining lead. He eventually opened copper mines at Ontonagon on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. According to his autobiography, he was “adopted” by local Ojibwe who named him “Wasusks,” which meant muskrat, because he dug holes in the ground. There in 1854 he married Electra Wilkinson. Spalding is thought to have been among a group of men who either purchased a one-square mile tract of land in what is now Duluth from trader Benjamin Armstrong or accepted the land in lieu of money for Armstrong’s gambling debts. That land had been given to Armstrong’s father-in-law, Kechewaishe (also called Bizhiki and known to EuroAmericans as Chief Buffalo), as part of the 1854 Treaty of LaPointe to serve as a reservation for his family; Armstrong took ownership when Kechewaishe died in 1855. Known as the Buffalo Tract, Spalding and others developed much of it as downtown Duluth.

Spalding came to Duluth in 1869, claimed the lower 400 block of West Superior Street, and built a store at its northeast corner. He then dismantled his home in Octonagon and rebuilt it at 504 West Second Street. Spalding served as an early Duluth alderman, president of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad, and president of the St. Louis County Agricultural Society. In 1888, the same year he and others built the opulent

Spalding Hotel, the Spalding’s built a new home designed by architects Charles McMillen and Edwin Radcliffe at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue East and Second Street. The Romanesque Revival house included an octagonal corner tower with a bell-shaped roof, shingle-covered gables, tall patterned brick chimneys, and a grand veranda support by fluted Doric columns.

Spalding died in 1901, and Electra survived him by twenty years. But in 1907 she was forced to move because the city was removing every house near the intersection of Second Street and Fifth Avenue West to make room for the new St. Louis County Courthouse. The Spalding house was not demolished. Instead, banker Amos Warner and his wife Harriet purchased the home and had it dismantled and hauled to Hunter’s Park to be rebuilt at 2319 Woodland Avenue in a very different style.