September 27, 1975: Gardner Hotel announces closing

On this day in Duluth in 1975, the management of the Gardner Hotel at 12 North Lake Avenue announced it would close. Constructed in 1890, the four-story Romanesque Revival style building, designed by Duluth architect Austin Terryberry, began life as the Tremont Hotel. It was converted to the Gardner Hotel sometime prior to 1947 (perhaps as early as 1922). Leroy Wendling had purchased the building in July of 1975, just two months after a fire caused extensive damage. Duluth Fire Warden Archie P. Jeanetta had declared the hotel a fire hazard, and the Louis County Health Department planned to revoke the hotel’s boarding license in October due to substandard ventilation, a lack of proper fire exits, no smoke detectors, and the smell of fecal matter and urine that permeated the building. About 25 people lived in the hotel, paying from $40 to $100 to stay in one of its 62 rooms. In 1987 the city of Duluth loaned $144,000 to the Center City Housing Corporation, the Gardener was converted to housing for the extremely poor. All of the windows were replaced, a new roof was installed, as well as a sprinkler system. In 2007 the building again exchanged hands. The Zeppa Foundation purchased it and planned to turn it into the Duluth Music and Arts Center. That idea never materialized. The building is currently for sale.

The Gardner Hotel, photographed shortly before it closed in 1975 by Doug Fairchild. (Image: Doug Fairchild)