February 18, 1941: Fire at the Moose Lodge destroys building, injures 7

On this day in Duluth in 1941, a fire destroyed the Moose Lodge and injured seven people on a night when temperatures reached 21 degrees below zero. The five-story building at 418–420 West Superior Street stood between the Spalding Hotel and the Manhattan Block. It was built in 1903 by Theodore and Frank Frerker for the home of their retail liquor business and was known as the Frerker Building before it was used in part as the headquarters for Duluth’s Moose Lodge #505. An occupant of one of the building’s ten apartments called in the fire at 1:15 a.m. Fireman Carl Lindau, Dincamn McTavish, and Donald Cameron were injured when the third floor collapsed beneath them. According to the Duluth News Tribune, captains Ernest Olson and Connie Knudsen “reached the trio through a dumbwaiter and hauled them to safety Lindau had to be carried out through the Spalding Hotel.” A fourth fireman, A. T. Kanesky, suffered smoke inhalation, as did Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Willcuts, guests at the Spalding. Another hotel guest, Corinne Stapleton, injured her ankle when she fell down a stairway evacuating the hotel. Most of the Spalding’s 145 occupants also fled the building, most not dressed for the cold conditions. All found refuge in the Holland Hotel, across the street. Chief John Fisher ordered every piece of fire apparatus the city owned to fight the blaze. Firefighters were soon covered in a glaze of ice. They fought the fire from the roofs of the Spalding and Manhattan. At about 6 a.m. the building’s roof collapsed. Seventeen people lost their homes in the Moose building. Several businesses also lost their home that night: Geraldine Butler Dancing Studios, Brass Rail Tavern, Arthur Anderson’s Liquor Store, Paul Note’s Billiard Room, Louis Sliitz’s barber shop, and Victor Strombahl’s café. Throughout the battle, the staff at the Spalding fed victims and firefighters sandwiches and coffee until water broke through the hotel’s bar, coffee shop, and kitchen.

The Ferker Building photographed ca. 1925. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)