June 1, 1910: St. Louis County holds open house at new courthouse

On this day in Duluth in 1910, St. Louis County Officials threw open the doors of the brand new County Courthouse, the first building in what would become Duluth’s Civic Center. The country had delayed a public open house for the building after it first opened in the fall of 1909, but they did have a dedication celebration that November 29. During that event, two thousand people, the News Tribune reported, wandered the building’s halls, inspecting every room. Judges William Cant, J. B. Middlecroft, and J. D. Ensign were on hand to greet visitors in their chambers, and “on every desk lay a box of cigars from which the visitor was welcome to help himself.” The June, 1910, open house—after county employees had time to settle in and the building was outfitted with some public art—was a much larger affair. An estimated crowd of 5,500 walked through the courthouse, inspecting the buildings and some paintings. These included the Duluth At Institute’s first acquisition (and at the time, its only acquisition), a painting by Charles Rosen of a pastoral farm scene. Arthur Kreiger lent his copy of Rembrandt’s “The Syndics of the Draper Mills” (the “Dutch Boy Cigar” painting) and a reproduction of Pieter Bruegel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” was borrowed from August Fitger. Lumber baron Frederic Weyerhaeuser of St. Paul, who had many interests in the Duluth area, donated a portrait of his elderly wife. The building’s third floor contained perhaps the building’s most impressive piece, a nine-by-seven foot reproduction of Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna” by Charles L. A. Bergman. Read the history of the St. Louis County Courthouse here.

The 1909 St. Louis County Courthouse photographed by Hugh McKenzie, ca. 1916 c. 1910. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)courthouse