October 7, 1941: Duluth Police Department abandons its headquarters

On this day in Duluth in 1941, the Duluth Police Department abandoned its headquarters and jail at 126 East Superior Street and moved into a new facility within Duluth’s 1928 City Hall in the Duluth Civic Center. Duluth Police had occupied the old building since it first moved in on January 1, 1891. The building, a Richardsonian Romanesque masterpiece by Duluth’s own Oliver Traphagen and his new partner Francis Fitzpatrick, cost $38,000 or $950,000 in today’s dollars. It was built to complement Traphagen’s 1889 City Hall next door. Together the buildings, according to historian Edith Dunn, were “fashionable city monuments worthy of an emerging metropolis” which “represented the ambitions of Duluthians.” Earlier in the 1941 Public Safety commissioner Richard Peterson had condemned the building, which the Duluth News Tribune described as “unsanitary, poorly ventilated, obsolete, a fire hazard, and in generally bad condition, and as being such is a great danger to the well-being, health, security and life of any person confined there.” Costs to repair the building were estimated at between $70,000 and $100,000—that’s between $1.2 million and $1.7 million in 2020. Instead, space was created for the department within the 1928 City Hall. Read a complete history of Duluth’s 1890 Police Headquarters and Jail, which still stands, here.

The Duluth Police Headquarters and jail, photographed some time between 1890 and 1909. (Image: Duluth Public Library)