September 3, 1854: Birth of Duluth architect Oliver Traphagen

On this day in 1854, future Duluth resident—and arguably its premier architect from 1886 to 1896—Oliver Green Traphagen was born in Tarryton, New York. he began his career in Minnesota in the 1870s, when he moved to St. Paul and found work as a carpenter for architect George Wirth. Soon Traphagen was working as a draftsman and became partners with Wirth in 1884. By that time Traphagen had been in Duluth for two years, overseeing the construction of Wirth-designed buildings. Wirth returned to his native Germany in 1886, and Traphagen soon became Duluth’s premier architect. In 1890 he went into practice with Francis Fitzpatrick, a partnership that lasted six years and produced some of Duluth’s most remarkable buildings. They dissolved their partnership in 1896 and both moved from Duluth, Traphagen to Hawaii because a doctor advised warm weather for his ailing daughter. There he soon became, according to architectural historian Gaylord Wilcox, “the most prolific and highly regarded architect in town.” Traphagen died in Alameda, California, in 1932. Read Traphagen’s entire biography, including a list of buildings he  designed in the Zenith City, here.

Oliver G. Traphagen. (Image: Zenith City Press)n