Fixes ahead for Enger TowerThe same club that helped illuminate the Aerial Lift Bridge several years ago is about to light up another Duluth landmark.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
The same club that helped illuminate the Aerial Lift Bridge several years ago is about to light up another Duluth landmark.
Rotary Club No. 25 of Duluth recently announced it will donate about $100,000 to bathe Enger Observation Tower in light.
“We wanted to do something special for the community on our club’s centennial,” said Roni Salo, president-elect of the local Rotary.
Jerry Ostroski, a fellow Rotarian and past president of the club, said the organization has been socking money away for 10 years in hopes of making a splashy centennial gift of this sort to the community. And those efforts have paid off, as the club already has reached the $100,000 threshold in its fundraising.
Plans call for the installation of high-intensity xenon or LED lamps on eight 14- to 16-foot-tall stands to light up each face of the octagonal tower at night. The interior lighting of the tower will be upgraded, as well, with the help of high-efficiency LED fixtures.
“The days of throwing gobs of power at things are gone,” said Duluth City Architect Terry Groshong.
Groshong said the high-tech lighting system will be controlled by computer software that can make adjustments and even change the hue. The system boasts a palette that would provide the city with a host of creative options.
“We could invoke the seasons with different color schemes at different times of year,” Groshong said. “It should be spectacular.”
He explained that the lighting will be dynamic. “We’re not looking to just flip a switch once and have everyone say, ‘Oooh.’ ”
In addition to the new lighting system, Enger Tower is scheduled to receive some serious TLC this year. The city has set aside $100,000 to help repair the 71-year-old structure. But Groshong is laying plans to tackle about $549,000 worth of work on the tower, not including the lighting.
Already some tradespeople have stepped forward to volunteer their services, and Groshong is optimistic the Rotary Club’s generous gift will set the stage for others to support the effort to return the tower to its former glory. Some of the stonework in the lookout is giving way, and vandals have defaced portions of the building. Still, the tower continues to offer some of the best panoramic views of the city.
Natalie Constance of Duluth considers the tower one of Duluth’s most important landmarks and said she definitely wants to see it preserved.
“I would hate to lose it,” Constance said as she enjoyed the view from Enger Tower on Sunday afternoon. “But I still don’t have a real grasp of the money and where it will come from. So that’s a concern.”
Mason and Peggy Owen of Shoreview said Enger Park is an undiscovered treasure for many out-of-towners such as themselves. The couple has been visiting Duluth and the North Shore for years but first set foot in the park in 2008 while hiking a section of the Superior Hiking Trail. Now, Enger is a regular stop for them.
“We love the view and the gardens,” Peggy Owen said.
Mason Owen said that if the tower were lit up at night, more people might be intrigued to visit.
“It definitely would catch the eye and make people wonder what it was,” he said.
Salo hopes more people like the Owens will be drawn to Enger Park when the new lighting is installed.
“A lot of our motivation was civic pride,” Salo said.
“When people come to town, we want them to see it (Enger Tower) just like the Aerial Lift Bridge. We were very proud of that project, and we thought it would be a nice addition to have yet another local icon lit,” she said.
Groshong aims to have the new lighting installed and operating by June of next year. He expects to encapsulate the tower in plastic later this year so that restoration work can continue through the winter. The attraction will be closed to the public during that time.
The structure plus 600 acres of land were a posthumous gift to the city from Bert J. Enger, a native of Norway who immigrated to Duluth and made his fortune selling furniture. In accordance with his wishes, Enger’s ashes were placed in a vault that was incorporated into the tower. The 1939 opening of the tower was attended by Norwegian royalty, including Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha, who presided over its dedication.