October 21, 1892: Duluth’s Central High School Dedicated

On this day in Duluth in 1892, officials officially dedicated Duluth High School at Lake Avenue and East Second, known today as “Old Central.” The $1.1 million building was designed by Duluth architect’s Palmer and Hunt, who modeled their design after the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The dedication began with an invocation by Reverend C. C. Salter, followed by the High School choir signing “America.” After comments by the architects, Duluth Mayor Charles d’Autremont, made a speech claiming the building was equaled only by the high school in Fall River, Massachusetts and commenting on the appropriateness of the date: that same day, in Chicago, architect Daniel Burnham’s “White City” was also dedicated, marking the opening of the 1893 Columbia Exhibition. The mayor used the building’s dedication to speak of the other great architectural triumphs of the Zenith City, then asked the rhetorical question, “Have we paid too much?” He followed that up by emphatically stating, “No, the free schools were handed down as a priceless inheritance.” More songs followed the mayor’s speech, after which Professor John F. Downey of the University of Minnesota made a dedication address, in part stating that with this building, Duluthians had  recognized “the importance of educating other people’s children as well as your own.”

The 1892 Duluth Central High School. (Image: Zenith City Press)