June 15, 1939: Dedication of Enger Tower

On this day in Duluth in 1939, Crowned Prince Olaf and Princess Martha of Norway helped dedicate Duluth’s Enger Memorial Tower. The tower was built in memory of Bert Enger, a Norwegian native and Duluth businessman who operated a West End furniture business with Emil Olson. In the 1920s, Enger donated money used to purchase the land for what would become Enger Park Golf Course and develop Zenith Park, the upper portion of the planned but never developed Central Park. Enger donated $50,000 to the city on his death, and Duluth renamed Zenith Park Enger Park and later built the tower. A crowd of 5,000 gathered to watch the Norwegian royals, who stayed at the Hotel Duluth while in town, and other dignitaries such as Judge C. R. Magney made speeches. The headlines stated that the royals “Captivate[ed] Duluthians by Informality.” The prince wore a simple black suit; the princess a black lace dress she described as “everyday.” He smoked casually, and when reporters pressed him on his fishing skills—a Norwegian point of pride—he admitted, “I am really not passionate about it.” He was more of a yachtsman. Martha was a typical young mother, spending a great deal of her travel time buying toys and souvenirs for her children. The prince expressed pride in how Norwegian immigrants had influenced Duluth and indeed all of America: “[Enger] is a truly Norwegian name. As the princess and I have traveled about your country, we have been greatly pleased to note the recognition that has been accorded American men and women of Norwegian birth and Norwegian ancestry.” On October 17, 2011, Norway’s King Herald V—Olav’s son—and Queen Sonja came to Duluth to rededicate the tower after an extensive renovation. Read the history of Enger Park here.

Members of Duluth society gather in the ballroom of the Hotel Duluth on June 17, 1939, in honor of Norway’s Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha, who were visiting Duluth to dedicate Enger Memorial Tower; photo by L. Perry Gallagher Jr. (Image: University of Minnesota Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives and Special Collections)