Local View: Mysterious gazebo a spot of heaven in Duluth

From the column: "It confirms my feeling of comfort that I belong. It is indeed a home away from home."

This gazebo is nestled between the Lakewalk and Lake Superior just west of Brighton Beach.
Chuck Frederick / Duluth News Tribune

A treasure exists near a shoreline kissed by Lake Superior. It is a stately gazebo in Duluth, just off Highway 61 and past the Lester River bridge heading east, and close to the entrance to Brighton Beach.

This beautiful gazebo is, unfortunately, the Rodney Dangerfield of these structures since it gets little if any respect. There isn’t even a plaque on it to offer pertinent information concerning its being.

I have made inquiries of several city, county, and state agencies which, conceivably, would be in possession of this information, but none apparently is available. My contacts with permanent Lakeside residents yielded similar results. One credible piece of information I received was that the Works Progress Administration had no involvement in this gazebo’s construction. It’s as if this mysterious structure suddenly appeared at its location, like the monoliths in the “2001, a Space Odyssey” sci-fi movie.

I realize people want to know what is so special about this gazebo. Its shape is octagonal with seating inside. Rising above Lake Superior’s surface, the gazebo presents a perfect peripheral view of the big lake. Its ceiling is several feet above my six feet of height. The structure is unique for a gazebo and should be considered important to the region and to Duluth’s Lake Superior shoreline.

When I walk around the periphery of this gazebo and sit down inside it to relax, it confirms my feeling of comfort that I belong. It is indeed a home away from home. I gaze at the lake’s surface, which reflects the color of the sky and clouds above. The possible colors include the wealth of those birthed by a rainbow. When the sun and moisture form like a friendship, an actual rainbow is the observer’s reward as they mingle.


One one occasion, I closed my eyes and imagined the gazebo and I were floating up and then stopping over the water near the shoreline. Each oncoming wave strutted its stuff while rolling forward. It was as if the waves were speaking to each other. From inside the gazebo, I heard the waves performing. I said to them, like at the conclusion of a live classical symphony, “Take a bow!”

This gazebo is a perfect landmark for east-bound travelers to Brighton Beach Park. West-bound hikers, bicyclists, and motorists wave at me as if sensing my enjoyment in the gazebo. While sitting in it, I gaze at its soothing contours and reflect on the purpose of life.

When it is snowing, I bask in the lovely view of the woodland on the other side of Highway 61. A crosswind is born, and I walk to the gazebo’s entrance and let the snowflakes light and melt and congeal on my face for the duration of the wintry ballet.

For me, the presence of this gazebo is a perfect present, making it the eighth wonder of the world and the first wonder in a marriage to Lake Superior.

Lee Malis of Duluth is retired and a former columnist. He taught creative writing for community education. His screenplay, “The Private World” was purchased by a Hollywood studio.

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