February 16, 1879: Birth of Duluth architect Leif Jenssen

On this day in 1879, future Duluth architect Leif Jenssen was born in Norway. After graduating from the Norwegian Polytechnic Institute, Jennsen came to America in 1901 and worked for a time as a draftsman in New York City and, beginning in 1903, in Chicago. There in 1907 he married Dagney Larsen, and together they had three children. The Jenssens relocated to the Zenith City in 1909 and he went to work for for architectural firm German & Lignell. When that firm was dissolved in 1913, Jenssen joined Frederick German to form German & Jenssen, architects, who set up office in Duluth’s Exchange Building. Together they designed many buildings, including Superior High School (later known as Superior Central), additions Duluth’s Lincoln School, the 1922 Bethany Children’s Home, Pilgrim Congregational Church, Duluth’s downtown Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A., the Marshall-Wells building, the Lakeside Masonic Lodge, the Masonic Lodge and City Hall in Virginia, Minnesota, Duluth’s William and Rebecca Bailey house at 2508 East First Street, and the 1916 West Duluth Municipal Building. Jenssen was only 39 and at the top of his game when he was cut down by a cerebral hemorrhage in 1923.

Pilgrim Congregational Church, designed by Frederick German and Leif Jennsen, Church photographed by Dennis O’Hara in 2009. (Image: Northern Images)