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Preserving history: Temple Opera Building renovated to house Fargo-based bank

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DULUTH, MN-- If the walls at the Temple Opera Building on Superior Street in Duluth could talk, they would tell some interesting stories.

The building was built in 1889 by Masons, said Publisher of Zenith City Press, Tony Dierkins.

"The Masons actually occupied the fourth and fifth floors," said Dierkins.

The building has served as many things.

"There was actually an opera house attached to the back where the Orpheum Theatre is now," said Dierkins.

The second floor of the building was also the first home of the Duluth Public Library from 1890 to 1902.

The building sat vacant for a couple of decades, until now.

"It's a spectacular building," said President of Bell Bank's Duluth branch, Tim McShane.

The Fargo-based bank signed an agreement to lease it.

"We gutted it down to the brownstone and then brought it back and made it functional to today's banking environment," said McShane.

Bell Bank renovated the building's three floors and they also restored pieces of its history.

"The balcony itself is original, as well as the raw iron railing on the balcony," said McShane.

A light fixture and the brownstone outside of the building was left intact.

"When the building was built, the keyhole windows existed. That was the sign of the time," said McShane.

McShane said restoring the building was a great decision.

"Having Bell Bank operate in this building, we think it's going to demonstrate to the community that we're here to stay, we want people to visit, see the space and enjoy it as we do."

The entire project lasted about eight months and the planning started long before that.

This was a multi-million-dollar project.

Lyanne Valdez

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