Duluth Public Schools Central Administration Building in Duluth

Photo of Duluth Public Schools Central Administration Building in Duluth, Minnesota
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
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Duluth Public Schools Central Administration Building
Formerly:Duluth Central High School

215 North First Avenue East, Duluth, Minnesota
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Looking more like a church than a school, the old Duluth Central High School leans on the hill that slopes down to the harbor below. It's most notable feature is the 230-foot-tall clock tower. Its focal point being the clock, which has chimes patterned after Big Ben in London. But how did that massive structure come to rest so high up the hill? You can thank horse-pulled elevators which lifted the sandstone up the hill from the harbor. The old Central High School is built on the site of the former Washington School, erected in 1886. Its usefulness as a school expired in 1971 and is now the seat of administration for the Duluth school district.

Quick Facts
  • The school once had a six-ton 17-foot-long cannon, a relic from the Spanish-American war. It was melted down during the second World War.
  • The cornerstone contains a time capsule with newspaper clippings from 1891.
  • The school had its own creamery and greenhouse. The creamery sold its goods to local grocery stores. The greenhouse was torn down to make room for bus parking.
  • The gargoyles and other details are the work of George Tharna.
  • The school is made of locally mined brownstone.
  • On winter days, the school would burn up to eight tons of coal in its boilers.
  • The clock faces have a diameter of 10'6".
  • The clock has E. Howard & Co., Boston cast into its works.
    "Almighty God,
    Almighty power,
    Cherish our school,
    Throughout the hour."

    -Clock tower motto written by student John F. Zorbas
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  I am the president of the Castle on the Hill Association in Sioux City, Iowa. Our association represents the alumni of our Central High School in Sioux City, Iowa. Our school was also built in 1892, with the first graduating class in 1893. Our building was closed as a school in 1972. Our association was established in 1976, we purchased the building for $1.00 and have finally had the building renovated into 75 apartments of which the historical integrity of the building was protected. The auditorium, old gym, we call the dungeon, a gift shop, and a small office are leased by us as a non-profit working with a for profit investors of which we have a small percentage of ownership. Just wanted to let you know you have a beautiful building similar to ours and wanted to share with you that our buildings are rare and so glad you also preserved your jewel.Take care,Caroline Conkey

Caroline Conkey - Sunday, July 30th, 2006 @ 3:38am