Listen: 1 year later, the history of the century-old Superior buildings lost to fire

Archive Dive is a monthly podcast hosted by reporter Maria Lockwood. Episodes dip into the archives of historic events, people and places in Superior and Douglas County with local historians.

Archive Dive is a monthly history podcast hosted by Superior Telegram reporter Maria Lockwood.
We are part of The Trust Project.

Fire destroyed two storied Superior warehouses one bitterly cold day, Jan. 6, 2022 . No one was injured, but Superior Mayor Jim Paine called it “a terrible tragedy for the city.”
Fire lights up a warehouse in Superior’s North End on Thursday morning, Jan. 6, 2022.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

In this month's podcast, Telegram reporter Maria Lockwood is once again joined by local historian and retired librarian Teddie Meronek as they discuss the history of the Osborne Warehouse and the Twohy Mercantile Building, also know as the Bayside Warehouse, which were built in the 1890s. Built with large pieces of timber, which was slower to burn, both were prominently mentioned in newspaper articles as being fire safe.

"They must have thought they were safe and they were, if you really think about it, as they were over 100 years old when they burned down, 120 years old," said Meronek. "I would have loved to have seen them in their hey day of what they looked like.”

FILE: Twohy Mercantile Building
The Twohy Mercantile Building at 1515 N. First St., Superior, was built in 1894. This photo shows the warehouse in its early years.
Contributed / Mike Conlan

The buildings had so much life and so many different businesses come through their doors. The Osborne Warehouse was the first one to be built, with construction beginning in the fall of 1892. It was not financed by Osborne, but by the Land and River Improvement Company and was used as a grocery wholesale center. But with internal issues, it was never utilized by Osborne. It would be utilized by the Bemis Company, which made bags. Other companies would use it as a warehouse, but really didn’t have a stable occupant until Sivertson Fisheries in the 1970s.

Near the Osborne Warehouse was another grocery warehouse, The Twohy Mercantile Building. Built in 1894, it was financed by Edmund Twohy, who was also the first fire chief of Superior. Within the warehouse, there was a cigar manufacturing center. Twohy went into business with Peter Eimon, and eventually left the business. Years later after Eimon opened a warehouse on Winter Street, Twohy would return to the original building and the grocery wholesale business.


In this episode, they'll discuss the other businesses that occupied the buildings, the financial panic in the United States in the 1890s, the connection President Franklin D. Roosevelt's family had to Superior, could Superior have been "the Chicago of the North" and more.

FILE: Superior Warehouse Co. building
The building at 1507 N. First St., Superior, on Nov. 11, 2016.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

New episodes of Archive Dive are published monthly. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. Episodes are edited and produced by Duluth News Tribune digital producers Wyatt Buckner and Dan Williamson. If you have an idea for a topic you’d like to see covered, email Maria Lockwood at .

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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