May 13, 1968: Fire Destroys Duluth’s Curtis Hotel

On this day in Duluth in 1968, a fire in the building at 212–214 West Superior Street destroyed the entire structure, home to the Curtis Hotel, A & E Supply Company, and Musicland Record Shop. The building was completed gutted by flames which broke out in the basement of A & E Supply at about 5 p.m. According to Duluth Fire Department historian Jarry Keppers, three persons were injured in the blaze;  one was a firefighter who suffered a lacerated hand two others were occupants of the Curtis Hotel who suffered from smoke inhalation. Twelve other residents of the Curtis Hotel, which occupied the second and third floors, were rescued by police and firefighters. Another seven elderly persons were helped from the fire by firefighters on small ground ladders and by the larger aerial ladder. Every available firefighter, including off-duty personnel, was called to the scene to man equipment. In all, 75 men and ten pieces of fire apparatus were used to fight the fire. Units from Cloquet, Proctor, Superior, and the Duluth Air Base Fire Departments were called in to stand by. During the height of the fire, No. 1 Engine’s pump housing opened up. It was estimated that 1,839,500 gallons of water were used at the fire. Losses were set at $336,981—about $2.3 million today.

Firefighters battling the blaze at the Curtis Hotel, May 13, 1968. (Image: Duluth Public Library)