What’s old is new again in Duluth, Minnesota, where there are several places to stay and attractions housed in buildings that have lived former lives. Plan a trip to these accommodations and attractions for a visit filled with a perfect mix of past and present.
Endion Inn – This repurposed passenger train depot was built in East Duluth in 1899 and moved to its current Canal Park location in 1986. Zenith City Press describes the interesting industry and architectural history associated with this building, which now is a small boutique hotel with five guest rooms, a private community sauna, firepit and location just steps from Lake Superior and the Lakewalk.
Enger Lofts – Once home to several furniture stores, this historical building that’s thought to have been constructed in 1893 is now home to trendy lofts. These sun-filled rentals offer travelers a prime “home base” location, situated in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, which is full of exciting breweries, cideries, food, shopping and more. The first floor of this building now is a modern yet cozy coffee shop.
Fitger’s Inn – Located right on the shores of Great Lake Superior, this former brewery was built in the 1880s and still has historic features from the original building in the lobby. In addition to these relics of days gone by, exposed brick and the incredible lake views make it a one-of-a-kind hotel living its best second life. Bonus, the inn is part of a complex featuring dining, shopping and entertainment – and once again, a brewery.
The Oliver Inn – This boutique hotel in downtown was once home to Duluth’s original City Hall, constructed in 1889 by renowned architect Oliver Green Traphagen. The hotel features 13 rooms across three floors, each commemorating a Duluth historical figure. The building’s basement is also home to a modern speakeasy, The Rathskeller.
Suites Hotel at Waterfront Plaza – Nestled in Canal Park right in Duluth’s harbor, this hotel sits in the 1889 building that was formerly the headquarters and warehouses of Marshall-Wells, a hardware and grocery firm. With the unique waterside location, ships could moor right alongside the building. Then, they would load the goods right into railcars inside the building before sending them off on their next journey. Now, this building also houses Hoops Brewing and several restaurants, in addition to the hotel.
Attractions & Shopping
Bent Paddle Brewing Company – After outgrowing its original space nearby, Bent Paddle renovated and relocated its taproom to the former Enger & Olson Furniture building. This revitalized historic building in Lincoln Park now offers visitors a spacious, airy spot to grab a pint.
Clyde Iron Works – Built in 1907, the Clyde Iron Works building served as a manufacturing facility for hoists and other machinery. After supplying the Army in WWI and WWII with hoists and derricks, Clyde Iron Works was honored with an Army-Navy “E” for excellent war manufacturing service. The company also built cranes that were instrumental in the completion of projects such as the Panama Canal, Empire State Building and Golden Gate Bridge. In 2003, redevelopment began to give this site a new life, and today, it thrives with multiple facets, including Essentia Duluth Heritage Center, Clyde Iron Works Restaurant and Bar, Clyde Brewing and Clyde Event Center.
DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace – Located in the heart of Canal Park, this eight-story building was erected in 1909 and served as a furniture warehouse. After being home to furniture and mattress businesses for more than 70 years, the building was reconfigured and reopened in 1985 with the marketplace and office concept that remains in effect today. Three businesses from the 1985 reopening are still thriving: The Blue Heron Trading Company, Art Dock and J. Skylark. In addition to these, visitors can find delicious food and unique shopping at this historic building.
Glensheen – With a mission to celebrate preservation, the Glensheen offers today’s visitors similar sights to what the residents and guests of this early 20th century home would have enjoyed. However, instead of being the estate of prominent Duluthians, Glensheen is now a University of Minnesota museum. This 12-acre, 39-room home and grounds provides as look back in time. In the summer, don’t miss the popular Concert on the Pier series to experience modern entertainment at this historic spot.
Karpeles Manuscript Library – This 1912 building has high ceilings, intricate windows and an organ in the rotunda, all relics of its previous life as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Now this former church houses the Karpeles Manuscript Library, a large, private holding of significant manuscripts, including works of literature, music, art, religion, political history and more.
The St. Louis County Depot – The Duluth Union Depot opened on March 1, 1892, serving as a bustling hub for the railroad, complete with a newsstand, barber shop, parcel room and lunchroom. With the threat of demolition looming in the late 1960s, the community worked together and ultimately earned the Depot the status of a National Historic Site in 1970. Now, this beautifully preserved building is home to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum (celebrating 50 years in 2023)/North Shore Scenic Railroad and the Duluth Art Institute.
William A. Irvin – Originally commissioned in 1938 as the flagship vessel of U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes Fleet, this ship carried iron ore and coal for more than 40 years. This upcycled attraction is a one-of-a-kind educational experience, now operating as a floating museum instead of navigating the moody waters of the Great Lakes.