Six Structures to Fall for New Walgreens

A 110-year-old mansion and five other structures in Duluth, Minn., will soon be replaced by a Walgreens drug store. Last week the city council voted unanimously to clear the way for the project, to the dismay of some residents, who point out that the current Walgreens, one block away, is suitable.

"We did look at other sites and couldn't find any in the area that could accommodate our store with a drive-through to serve our patients," says Robert Elfinger, Walreens spokesman. The existing store, at 8,900 usable square feet, is "older, and harder to maintain," Elfinger says. "The mansion has been divided up, and it is in disrepair. Duluth City Council understood that and made a practical decision."

Construction of the new 16,000-square-foot Walgreens will require demolition of the Greek Revival Louis Loeb House, designed in 1900 by local architect John Wangenstein; two 1891 foursquare houses designed by Oliver Traphagen, architect of Duluth's Old City Hall; two office buildings, and one other house. None of the buildings is a designated landmark.

"We certainly hate to see the structures go," says Carolyn Sundquist, who serves on the board of advisors of the National Trust and on the board of the Duluth Preservation Alliance. "When it comes to good, modern city planning, the thought of taking down an entire city block of modest city structures to put up a big-box store … I think that's unfortunate."

Asbestos abatement and demolition will begin "in the next month or so," according to John Kohler of Semper Development, which builds Walgreens stores. Kohler has contracted an architectural antiques specialist who can salvage elements from the buildings before demolition. So far, however, no one has taken him up on the offer. "Nobody has contacted me, outside of people saying, 'Don't tear these down,' and that was just one or two here or there."

Read more

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Comments

Submitted by GE at: January 26, 2011
Walgreens is destroying America! They demolished one of our great structures in what we call "Historic Rome, New York". They profess on their website to have the "Walgreen Drug Stores Historical Foundation". Perhaps you can give them a call and ask for a donation to the Duluth Historical Society! The only recourse I have is to boycott shopping in any and all Walgreen stores throughout the country and I propose you do the same.

Submitted by Cham101 at: December 29, 2010
On a 90 day cross country trip in 2007 I probably visited over 50 cities. Living in Baltimore, I am extremely picky about architecture. Duluth won hands-down as my favorite city. I enjoyed the fact that it had a hiking store, a head shop and a casino in the downtown area. The dark brownstone structure of the buildings gave it a wonderful historic feel without being too gentrified or kitschy. The rust-belt relics of industries from yesteryear added to the ambiance. Duluth is destroying what makes it great. Sometimes a city doesn't know what it has until it is gone. Every place has a Walgreens, only Duluth has a Duluth.

Submitted by SFBayRod at: December 29, 2010
I'm from the Midwest originally (now in California). The all too-common mindset in these areas tend to see these structures as eyesores rather than future resources. Many folks believe they are building new & better, but don't realize that they are tearing down what helps to make their town unique. What they want to build will help to ensure their town will become another bland example of Anywhere USA. Nothing special, nothing memorable -- and no reason to come visit your town.

Submitted by Jtown at: December 29, 2010
This is such a sad story. A CVS came to my hometown and tore down one of the few "downtown" buildings my home had when it was just a village. They did the new building in the "character" of the original building---which must be the fake street lamps that never existed and the brick facade with parts made to look like windows were filled in with bricks. Just horrible!

Submitted by paulbob at: December 29, 2010
The key words from the developer in Duluth are the same you find everywhere, including here in central New Jersey: "couldn't find any" other sites; "the mansion...is in disrepair"; contacted "salvage" specialists; "nobody has contacted me". It makes you feel so sorry for the poor developers! The only thing I can do here is to have a mini-protest and no longer patronize Walgreens which I shall do. If others do the same, it won't stop Walgreens from doing there big-box thing elsewhere, but at least give the satisfaction that the lost profits will partially offset any gains to be made by the demolition. Add your voice to this to let Walgreens know!