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Duluth preservation efforts recognized

The remodeled NorShor Theatre has brand-new seating, a new stage and restored wall molds and paintings. This view is from the main floor. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com

The NorShor Theatre, brought back from the brink of death, is one of 13 Duluth Preservation Alliance honorees this year.

The Alliance will honor 11 homes and two businesses Monday that have been preserved or restored in a historically accurate way at its annual Preservation Awards and Centennial Home recognition event.

The $31 million NorShor investment included the installation of an orchestra pit, stage reconstruction and mural and balcony restoration. The building's marquee was also restored to light up downtown Superior Street nightly.

The project took more than a year and a half to complete. The DPA is honoring the massive undertaking by holding its 6 p.m. event at the theatre, said Mike Poupore, the DPA's president. The DPA is also recognizing Blacklist Artisan Ales, 120 E. Superior St. The restoration of the building isn't historic in nature — there is a garage door opening the taproom to the outdoors, after all — but Poupore said Blacklist is recognized for saving the dilapidated building that housed the former head shop the Last Place on Earth, under the new category "adaptive reuse."

"Normally it wouldn't qualify for one of our preservation awards because they did such a deviation from historic character," he said, but they preserved a building and some of its historic nature, and "kept that building out of the landfill."

The DPA promotes history and the historic fabric of Duluth. The organization also offers two scholarships a year to students who are interested in historic preservation and architectural heritage.

"Bottomline, we are a bunch of old house huggers," Poupore said. "Many of us have lived in or grew up in older homes so we can appreciate the historic character of them."

Buildings that receive one of its awards have to be at least 50 years old and the restoration work done in the character of the age of the building itself.

"So vinyl siding doesn't usually qualify a home for preservation work," Poupore said.

Homes receiving awards include:

• 15 E. Arrowhead Road: Jamieson Smith's restoration work focused on the outside of the home. The pillars, stairs, decking, decorative timbers and fascia boards were all replaced on the front porch. The original front and basement storm windows were all reglazed. External original metal hardware on the house and garage carriage doors were stripped and repainted black.

• 5417 Oneida St.: Kevin and Alexandra Radzak spent time working on the inside of the home. All the walls were redone by removing layers of wallpaper, patching plaster and replacing with sheetrock. They stripped the paint off the main stairway and built-ins and refinished the woodwork. The front room was also updated to make it more consistent with the age of the house. Much of the trim was replaced, as most of it was too damaged to be refinished. The outside was also updated.

• 424 N. 43rd Ave. E.: Mark and Sheila Tapper said the restoration of the house has been an ongoing process for 25 years. The recent major project included the restoration of the front porch and exterior window molding. They've also restored the leaded windows, hardwood floors, fireplace and chimney, interior woodwork and back deck.

• 4321 McCullough St.: The previous owners of the home renovated it 20 years ago by restoring the original ornate woodwork on the first floor, which includes the center stairway and banister; parlor, study, dining room, kitchen and pantry. The work was extensive because of an abundance of woodwork, including multi-piece floor and crown molding, three-panel doors, a built-in bookcase, a built-in buffet and flooring. Work also included restoring the original hardware on doors and built-in cabinets.

• 2145 Columbus Ave.: The biggest and most recent project was painting the whole house in a three-color scheme, which highlights the details on the home's exterior. Owners John and Michelle Nephew installed a paver patio at the back of the home, landscape plantings, a mini-split air-conditioning system, upgraded electrical boxes, radon exhaust system, water heater, bedroom ceiling fans and a second-floor laundry. They're in the middle of updating the kitchen, but are trying to save the butler pantry and servant stairs, since both are a part of the home's history.

• 1831 W. Kent Road: Kimberly Krohn and Lloyd Ketchum bought the home in November 2016. The restoration included plaster and wall repair, restoration of the original double hung windows, the fireplace, bookcases and the hardwood floors. The light fixtures were replaced with restored vintage and new period-appropriate fixtures, and the exterior stucco was repaired.

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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