Old St. Louis County jail in Duluth open for filmmakers

  • Associated Press
  • May 23, 2013 - 7:00 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - The owner of the former St. Louis County jail has a new idea for repurposing the building that's been vacant for 18 years: allow artists to use it for film shoots.

Developer Grant Carlson is inviting filmmakers and musicians to the jail on June 1 as part of the Duluth Superior Film Festival. The hope is that they'll be inspired to use the space in their work. Carlson told the Duluth News Tribune ( that he envisions all types of film projects in the space.

"The biggest assets are the jail cells," Carlson said, adding that the stark amenities haven't changed much since it was built in 1924.

The idea came up after Carlson and festival supporters began talking about having a party at the jail during the film fest. Soon, the discussion turned toward a reception with the goal of urging filmmakers to consider the site.

Festival producer Rick Hansen said any filmmaker who wants to use a real jail has to go through a lengthy permit process. The former jail would be an easier option.

The five-story jail once housed up to 200 inmates. It was scheduled to be torn down before area historians got involved, and Carlson bought the jail in 2010 for $54,000.

Since then, he's had several ideas for repurposing it, including office space and living space. He said in March that part of the plan could include artist space.

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota had named it one of Minnesota's most endangered historic places.


Information from: Duluth News Tribune,

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