About The Chamber History

The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce has a rich history. The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce was founded on August 5, 1870, moving business forward in our community for over 150 years. As one of the largest chambers in the State of Minnesota, the Duluth Area Chamber is a great place to educate, promote, and grow your organization. We currently serve approximately 1100 members, with four members that have been with the chamber for over 100 years.


  • March 5, 1870: The City of Duluth was incorporated.
  • August 5, 1870: Duluth Chamber of Commerce was founded.
    Henry A. Gould as President.
    The necessity for representation of citizens’ interests at the city council
    establishment of proper hitching posts.
    Repairs to sidewalks on Lake Avenue.
  • Oldest Members: Duluth News Tribune, since 1870s
    Stewart Taylor Printing since 1872
    Fitger’s Brewery since 1880s
    Christie Printing (now Pro Print) since late 1800s
  • Chamber advocates on behalf of Duluth’s port 1883-84: During the winter of 1883-84, the Chamber aggressively opposed the customs consolidation measure in the state Congress. If passed, the customs consolidation measure would have moved Duluth’s port of entry 150 miles inland. As a result of the Chamber’s efforts, the measure did not pass and the Duluth custom house was allowed to remain in Duluth.
  • Articles Of Incorporation July 1, 1886: Chamber filed its articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State.
    “The general nature of the business to be transacted by this corporation is to advance the commercial, mercantile, manufacturing and agricultural interests of the village of Duluth and to promote the general prosperity of the said village of Duluth.”
  • City withdraws support 1893: Up until 1893, the Duluth Chamber of Commerce received an appropriation of $5000 annually from the Duluth City Council however, in 1893, the City Council withdrew its monetary support amidst a nationwide financial crisis.
  • Merged with Commercial Club 1902: Chamber president T.W. Hugo indicated that Duluth was unable to properly support a purely public organization. He proposed that by combining social and commercial features, Duluth could have an effective institution.
    In 1902, T.W. Hugo’s plan was accomplished when the Chamber of Commerce merged with the Commercial Club.
  • Chamber objectives of the early 1900S: The primary objectives of the chamber during this period were in the areas of agriculture and industrial promotion.
  • Name change 1921: In 1921, the name of the organization was changed to the Duluth Chamber of Commerce.
  • THE Duluthian established September 1, 1924: On September 1, 1924, the Chamber initiated weekly publication of the Duluthian. Subscription rate was $1.00 per year for non-members.
  • Reorganization 1930: In 1930, the Chamber became more responsive to business needs by establishing a business development division. The Chamber’s reorganization created five divisions: business development; organizational affairs; tourist, convention, & publicity bureau; traffic bureau; and civic affairs.
  • Ambassadors Club 1941: The Duluth Chamber Ambassadors Club was founded by Dr. William Coventry and Robert Mars, Sr. in 1941 the official representative of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. A royal cape and hat were the club’s official symbols.
  • Name change 1968: In 1968, the Chamber widened its scope of interest to the Duluth area. It changed its name to the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Women invited to annual dinner 1971: After 100 years, women were finally invited to the Chamber’s annual dinner in 1971.
  • Woman in History 1973: In 1973, Julia Marshall became the first woman to be appointed to the Chamber Board of Directors. She founded a women’s involvement task force to promote interest among women in the business community.
  • Ambassadors return 1978: In 1978, Claude Lutzka and Paul Cooper initiated the resurgence of the group after the last two living members in 1977 donated the treasury of $2,800 to the Save Channel 8 campaign in memory of Robert S. Mars, Sr.
  • Chamber separates from Visitors Bureau 1978: In January of 1978, the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau separated from the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. The Bureau contended that it could operate more effectively if given its own autonomy.
  • Accreditation May 1, 1978: On may 1, 1978, the Chamber was accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Out of 5,000 chambers in the U.S., The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce belonged to a select group of 344 that had received accreditation.
  • New Office Location 2002: The Chamber’s office moved to a central location in the heart of downtown Duluth. Still today, the Chamber office can be found at 5 West 1st Street in the USAN Building.
  • Today: The Chamber serves 1,000 members, while operating with an esteemed group of Board of Directors, full-time staff, and over 100 volunteers.