September 22, 1940: 21 Duluth firefighters injured battling Glencoe Building blaze

On this day in Duluth in 1940, 21 Duluth firefighters required medical attention after fighting a fire at Duluth’s Glencoe Building at 26 North Third Avenue West. The blaze was thought to have started in the building’s subbasement and nearly destroyed the basement and first floor; it’s top two floors suffered heavy smoke damage. It could have been worse: police had been alerted by a dentist that there were tanks of oxygen and nitrous oxide in his office inside the building, and officers rushed in and removed the tanks, averting a possible explosion. Surprisingly, architect Thomas J. Shefchick and a local union official man were allowed to climb a ladder and enter the building during the blaze so they could save important papers from burning in the fire. Every available firefighter—about 140 men—had responded to the blaze, as did 40 police officers. The newspapers reported that over 3,000 people gathered to watch the flames, and police called in and a troop of Boy Scouts to “assist in maintaining order.” The Glencoe was built in 1891 as the Howe Building and served in part as the headquarters of the Kitchi Gammi Club until they moved into their current facility in 1912. Read more about the Howe/Glencoe Building here.

A sketch of the Howe/Glencoe building made shortly after it was constructed in 1891. (Image: Duluth Public Library)