Parks & Recreation

Granitoid Memorial Park History

From Intensive Survey of Historic Resources in Duluth’s East End (Part 2), prepared by JDebra Kellner for the Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission, August 2009. The entire document is on file at the Duluth Public Library.

In 1995 the Granitoid Streets located in the survey area were determined eligible for both the National Register of Historic Places and for local landmark status in the City of Duluth.  Granitoid was an innovative concrete pavement promoted in the early twentieth century.  It represented the convergence of many factors that helped distinguish twentieth-century America from previous eras:  the rapid increase in production of Portland cement, the standardization of construction methods, the nationwide demand for better roads, and the ascendancy of the automobile over the horse.  Although Granitoid was installed in a number of cites around the country in the decade after its introduction, few examples remain.  At the time of the determination of eligibility, the remaining Granitoid in the survey area was among the oldest concrete pavement in the nation. Located in the survey area at East Sixth St. between Twenty-fourth Avenue East and Wallace Avenue and East Seventh Street between Irving Place and Wallace Avenue, on Irving Place, and on Clover Street between East Seventh Street and Irving Place, these streets remained a significant example of the innovative design and construction of Granitoid streets built in Duluth in 1910 and 1911.

Recognition of Granitoid in Duluth dates back to the late 1950s.  In 1959 a triangular park located at the intersection of East 7th Street, Irving Place, and Clover St., was established as a joint effort between the St. Louis County Historical Society and the Minnesota Historical Society, the Duluth Chamber of Commerce, the city of Duluth and the Portland Cement Association.  A commemorative marker was installed again in 1980 at the seventieth anniversary of the streets construction.  By this time, Duluth’s Granitoid ranked as one of the oldest concrete pavements still surviving in the country, perhaps second only to the 1892 street in Bellefontaine, Ohio.  In 1995 the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office determined that the Granitoid streets were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and in 2000 the Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission initiated the process to locally designate the Granitoid streets on Irving Place, Clover Street between Irving Place and Eighth St., and Sixth and Seventh Streets between Irving Place and Wallace Ave. In 2001 a study was conducted by Hess, Roise and Company which outlines the history, significance, and recommendations for this area. An updated commemorative marker was installed as a result of that study.

National Register nomination and local landmark designation has not been pursued. The eligibility for each must be re-evaluated as the majority of the Granitoid fabric has undergone demolition, repair and/or maintenance. The original Granitoid was removed from East Seventh Street and Irving Place and was replaced with concrete pavers that are similar in design and construction to the original Granitoid streets. The Granitoid found on East Sixth Street between Twenty-fourth Avenue East and Wallace Avenue was removed and the street was reconstructed and paved.  Original Granitoid remains on East Seventh Street between Twenty-sixth Avenue East and Wallace Avenue.   As a result of the reconstruction of Wallace Avenue, an original brass marker was moved and replaced at the northeast corner of Twenty-sixth Avenue East and Wallace Avenue.

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