Among the oldest buildings still standing in Superior are the Trade & Commerce Building and the Berger Hardware building.

While they house different businesses today than when they were originally built, historical records detail their colorful pasts.

Trade & Commerce Building

The Trade & Commerce Building at 619 Hammond Ave. was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1979.

The five-story sandstone structure was built in 1890 by Henry Minot, director of the Eastern Railway Co. of Minnesota, an affiliate of the Great Northern Railway Line. The walls, according to the nomination form, are three feet thick at the base.

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It was designed by Clarence Johnston, a prominent St. Paul architect who also designed the State Historical Society Building and State Office Building. The Trade & Commerce Building was built to house offices for the grain industry, but never did due to Minot’s death shortly after construction was complete. For the next few years, the building housed various offices, the court and the public library, but was never fully occupied.

Police Headquarters is inlaid above a door at the Trade and Commerce Building at 916 Hammond Ave. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Police Headquarters is inlaid above a door at the Trade and Commerce Building at 916 Hammond Ave. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

In 1904, the city of Superior bought the structure for use as city hall. The building cost $115,000 to construct, but the city only paid about half that, according to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form. During the years it served as city hall, the building was the center of much of Superior's community activity.

A large two-story wing was added to the north in 1918 to house the police station and jail. A June 10, 1918, Telegram picture shows the building under construction behind police officers preparing for a "slacker raid" to round up men and check if they were registered for the draft. Prior to the addition, the jail was housed in a building further back on the lot, which can be seen in the 1914 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of the area.

An undated image from the Douglas County Historical Society shows police vehicles outside the police station at 916 Hammond Ave., the Trade & Commerce Building. The building served as city hall from 1904 to 1970. (Courtesy of the Douglas County Historical Society)
An undated image from the Douglas County Historical Society shows police vehicles outside the police station at 916 Hammond Ave., the Trade & Commerce Building. The building served as city hall from 1904 to 1970. (Courtesy of the Douglas County Historical Society)

The city remained in the building until 1970, when a new county-city complex was completed. According to the nomination form, the building was in danger of demolition in 1979 unless renovation work was begun.

The structure was revitalized into the Historic Trade & Commerce Marketplace in the 2000s and currently houses a number of businesses, including Spirit Room and Luke Chiropractic and Wellness.

Browse a listing of historic places through the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

Berger Hardware building

Known to the community as the Berger Hardware building, 525 Tower Ave. was originally built to house Lurye Furniture.

The furniture store was completed at a cost of $60,000, according to an article in the Oct. 18-19, 1919 Superior Telegram. The brick and concrete structure encompasses three floors and a mezzanine, a total of 31,000 square feet.

Signage from former businesses still hang on the side of the Berger Hardware Building at 525 Tower Ave. Level Up now resides in the building. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Signage from former businesses still hang on the side of the Berger Hardware Building at 525 Tower Ave. Level Up now resides in the building. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

“The contract for the building was let on May 20 and Edward I. Lurye, manager of the store believes that the quick completion has set a record for construction in Superior,” the article read.

It remained Lurye's until 1937, according to city directories. It was listed as vacant in 1938. By 1940, it was Berger Hardware. The building remained under the Berger name into the 2000s, when it was listed as Berger Hardware and Antiques.

More recently, the site at 525 Tower Ave. has been home to Mama Get’s Restaurant, Marlee’s Caribbean Restaurant and now Level UP game store, which opened in 2016.