Lake Superior Zoo seeks help to restore pavilionPlans for the currently condemned building include tuck-pointing, a replacement for the rotting, timber-lined roof, a 600-square-foot restroom/kitchenette addition, windows reminiscent of the 1930s style of the building and a gas insert for the fireplace.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Sam Maida has his own memories of the Lake Superior Zoo’s bluestone pavilion: As a crossing guard for the school patrol of Fairmount Elementary School in the early 1960s, he attended end-of-year parties there for all of the Duluth students who served on the patrol.
“Officer (William) Kehoe gave us all pocket knives,” said Maida, now executive director of the Lake Superior Zoological Society. “I still have one at home in a treasure chest in the attic.”
Many Duluthians have such memories, he said, and it’s one of the reasons the society is working to restore the 80-year-old pavilion. The pavilion, some animal exhibits and five bridges were built during the Great Depression in the 1930s by the Works Progress Association. The pavilion has been the site of countless wedding and company parties, school and family picnics and pick-up inline skate hockey games.
“It’s been part of the fabric of the community for almost 80 years,” said Anita Skutevik, development director for the society, which has run the zoo since 2009 after taking over for the city.
Plans for the currently condemned building include tuck-pointing, a replacement for the rotting, timber-lined roof, a 600-square-foot restroom/kitchenette addition, windows reminiscent of the 1930s style of the building and a gas insert for the fireplace. The society received $250,000 from the state Legacy Fund for part of the $475,000 project, has applied for other grants and has received some donations. It’s asking the community to pitch in to raise $110,000 and to send stories of use of the pavilion to help develop a zoo history exhibit to be housed there.
The restored pavilion, which will be available nearly year-round, will be used again for picnics and weddings, but with more amenities. It also will have space for a classroom for the zoo’s educational programs.
“We have a strong need for space for programs,” Skutevik said. “There is nowhere for classes to get out of the rain and eat or have a lesson.”
If the society wasn’t planning to convert the pavilion into a three-season educational building, Maida said, the state probably wouldn’t have granted the money. It would continue to decay, and probably eventually be demolished, he said.
“We’re looking to give it a new life and new purpose,” he said. “Duluth is very proud of its past. We want to preserve it.”
To get involved
To support the Lake Superior Zoological Society pavilion restoration project, send checks to the society at 7210 Fremont St., Duluth, MN 55807, Attn: Pavilion Renovation Project. The zoo’s website — lszoo.org — also has a section to give online. There are several recognition levels for those who give significant donations. Zoo history stories can be sent the same ways. Call Anita Skutevik at (218) 730-4500, ext. 310, or send an e-mail to email@example.com for details.