Townsend W. Hoopes

Townsend Hoopes and his first wife, Mayme, with their children in a gazebo on their Hunter’s Park estate. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

Pennsylvania native Townsend Hoopes spent his early adulthood trying his hand at farming. He settled in Duluth in 1882, when he was twenty-five years old, and established himself as a real estate developer and business pioneer. Working with the Duluth Street Railway, Hoopes helped plan and construct Duluth’s first street car line, a narrow-gauge line which eventually ran from Twenty-First Avenue West to Sixth Avenue East along Superior Street. The streetcar was drawn by a single horse. Hoopes would oversee the construction of the Fourth Street Line on behalf of the Motor Line Improvement Company in 1909.

He and Mendenhall then established a real estate and insurance company eventually named Hoopes-Kohagan Company, from which he retired in 1923. Hoopes belonged to the Duluth Boat Club, the Kitchi Gammi Club, and the Northland Country Club, which he helped organize.

He also invested in several early Duluth businesses, including the Spalding Hotel, the Duluth Dry Goods Company, the Duluth Shoe Company, and Sagar Drug (which became Northern Drug).

He married three times and was widowed twice. He wed his first wife Mayme Harvey in 1885, and this home was intended for their family. Mayme, however, died in 1910 after a long illness. Three years later Hoopes married Abbie Goodale Smith in 1913, who died unexpectedly in 1920 while the couple was in San Diego. Some time after Abbie’s death he wed Grace Howard, who outlived Townsend. Townsend passed away in 1937,  and the house was demolished in 1938. Grace followed him ten years later. (Townsend’s nephew was also named Townsend.)

Story by Tony Dierckins. Originally published on Zenith City Online (2012–2017). Click here for more stories by Tony Dierckins.