Enger Park, one of Duluth’s most visited attractions, features a stone tower that overlooks the beautiful city and lake, as well as has a Japanese peace garden and numerous walking paths. Any tourist or Duluthian would tell you that this a beloved destination that is a must-see when visiting the city of Duluth, Minnesota. While Enger Park is known by many, most individuals do not know its history and origins. Throughout this piece of writing, we are going to dive into the history of how Enger Park came to be and the fascinating ties the area has to Norwegian royalty.
It all started with a businessman named Bert Enger. Enger was a Norwegian native and Duluth businessman who operated a furniture business in the West End of Duluth. He came to America with his maternal grandparents at the age of thirteen years old. In his early years, he found work on farms in Wisconsin, Dakota wheat fields, and the iron mines of northeastern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 1903, Enger and his newly pronounced business partner Emil Olson decided to take a chance and move to Duluth to try their luck in the furniture business. A little fun fact about their business is that their old furniture warehouse is now the taproom and offices of Bent Paddle Brewing Company. Overall, Bert and Emil’s furniture business was a great success, serving all the citizens of Duluth for many, many years.
Bert Enger was seen as a public-spirited man. He served on Duluth’s park board and was the fifth member to be installed into the Duluth Hall of Fame. Bert Enger never had a family of his own but lived with his aunt, uncle, and their daughter, all of whom also originated from Norway. In the 1920s, Enger made a very generous donation of $50,000 to the city of Duluth to aid in city-wide development. Later, upon his passing, he made another donation of $50,000, roughly two-thirds of his total estate. Both of these large contributions made by Enger led to city chambers being able to acquire and develop the land that later became the site of Enger Tower, Enger Park, and Enger Golf Course. On April 8th, 1931, Enger passed away after suffering from a stroke. The Enger family historian, Jim Insbell, claims that Enger’s remains are within the Enger Memorial Tower, but this has never been verified.
The site of Enger Tower was selected in October of 1934, cost about $30,000 to build, and was built with native bluestone. If an individual desired to build something equivalent to the tower today, it would cost an estimated $578,000 for said project, according to the CPI Inflation Calculator found on the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics website. On June 15th, 1939, in the great city of Duluth, a dedication ceremony was held at the Enger Memorial Tower to commemorate Bert Enger as well as to celebrate the completion of the tower. The crowned Prince Olaf and Princess Martha of Norway were guests of honor at this ceremony. During this ceremony, where almost 5,000 Duluthians attended, the prince expressed great pride in the influence Norwegian immigrants have had on Duluth and America as a whole.
More recently, in 2011, there was a renovation of Enger Tower that cost a little under $400,000. This renovation helped with replacing missing bluestone, electrical work, concrete patching, roof work, and more. After the renovation, Duluth received a visit from Norwegian royalty, King Harald V and Queen Sonja. On October 17th, 2011, the city of Duluth, accompanied by the Norwegian royalty visitors, held a rededication ceremony in honor of the late Bert Enger and the restoration of the iconic tower.
Today, the park includes the American-Japanese Peace Bell and serves as a popular place for weddings. Enger Tower will always be a symbol of Duluth’s history and a reminder of its citizens’ passion for the city they call home. If you found this blog interesting or have fond memories at the historic Enger Tower you would like to share with us, give us a shout at [email protected].
Happy day, friends!
2 thoughts on “A Place Called: Enger Park and Enger Tower”
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