The first school in West Duluth -- and all
of northeastern Minnesota for that matter -- was Oneota School.
It opened in 1857, housed in a one-room frame building on 42nd Avenue
At the time, the area was not part of West Duluth.
It was the Oneota Village. Oneota is an American Indian name that
means “the rock from which the people sprang.”
Oneota's teacher, Jerome Merritt, had conducted
classes in a private home prior to the opening of the school. He
was paid by parents in proportion to the number of their progeny
At Oneota, Merritt was not only the teacher, but
the school's administrator, custodian, maintenance man, office clerk
and nurse. His salary was $20 to $25 per month.
In 1858, seven Presbyterians formed Duluth's
first church -- First Presbyterian Church of Oneota -- and held
their first official services at the school. The church continued
there until 1873, when the Rice’s Point Presbyterian Church
opened. The bell from Oneota School's tower was moved to the new
The original Oneota School was replaced in 1888
with a brick building designed in the Romanesque style by Duluth's
most renowned architect, Oliver Traphagen. The new building, located
at 4420 W. First St., also served as the Oneota Village Council
Chambers before the village became part of Duluth.
Oneota School closed in 1946. The building was
used as storage until it was demolished in 1973 to make way for
construction of an industrial park.