Downtown Mitchell buildings change hands after a century of Logan family ownership

Mitchell's Jeff Logan sold a pair of downtown buildings on Monday, ending a century's worth of family history.

From left, Kelly Gross stands with Linda and Jeff Logan as the 110 E. Second Ave. building owned by the Logans was sold to Gross this week. (Matt Gade / Republic)

It was an emotional week for Jeff Logan, as he said his final goodbyes to a pair of downtown buildings that have been a part of his family for over a century.

While Logan is passing the buildings on to two of his tenants who have become close friends over the years, it wasn’t easy considering the deep connection he has with the properties on the corner of East Second Avenue and Main Street. After all, the 200 N. Main St. building that he sold to Janet Fritzmeier on Monday was where Logan grew up.

“I have a lot of memories up there. It was a great place to call home, and I loved living in the heart of downtown. You had everything you really needed within an easy walking distance,” Logan said of the 200 N. Main St. building that was built in 1887. “It’s sad, but I have come to terms with selling them. I’m scaling back a bit, so I won’t have to worry about maintaining these buildings. Having younger people become owners who will be able to take care of them and see their return on their investment is a good thing.”

Next door to Fritzmeier's office along East Second Avenue sits the second building that Logan sold on Monday to Kelly Gross, who has been operating his insurance business there since 2017. Built in 1917, Logan considers the building, located at 110 E. Second Ave., an architectural treasure.

With its distinct gargoyle figurines, a 36-foot wide stained glass window and brightly colored terracotta designs above the doorway on the facade, Logan said the building is a one-of-a-kind piece of architecture. However, Logan has put a lot of work into preserving the structure that his grandfather built to maintain its original form. And that work paid off, as the building recently attracted national attention and a buyer.


“I was always fascinated with the building,” Gross said. “It has such a unique look, and learning about the history of this building makes me fall in love with it even more. I embrace the historic elements of the building, inside and out, like the beautiful stained glass windows.”

For several decades, the 1917 building was the home of the Branson Bank, which is what it was originally built for, Logan said. Its architectural features trace back to the renowned building design firm out of Minneapolis, Purcell and Elmslie.

The style of the building is what’s known as “Prairie School architecture,” a style that Logan said was popularized by the late well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose designs became world famous in the early 1900s. One of the most notable buildings Wright designed was the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. Sometime in the 1930s, Logan said Wright made a special trip to visit the Branson Bank building in Mitchell.

The rich history and architecture helped the Branson Bank building recently make its way onto the USA Today’s list of “must see” buildings in South Dakota.

“It really is a gem of downtown,” Logan said. “It was a building that people stopped to check out back in its early days after being constructed, because you just didn’t see that style of building in town.”

While Gross said buying the Branson Bank building for $50,000 was one of the best purchases he’s ever made, he found himself getting emotional after he signed the title papers and became the new owner. However, his emotions weren’t about him. Rather, Gross was saddened to see his longtime friend and former landlord, Logan, hand over two buildings that have a lot of sentimental value to him and his family.

“I have been so blessed to rent from Jeff (Logan) over the years, and he has truly been a monumental part of keeping Main Street and these buildings in great condition for generations to come,” Gross said. “I know he still has his theater and other buildings, but it’s heavy to see him say goodbye to these buildings that mean so much to him.”


The long-time Logan-Branson building and the 2nd and Main building was sold from Jeff and Linda Logan. (Matt Gade / Republic)

A family with roots

For Logan, maintaining the two buildings, while running three movie theaters in Mitchell, Dell Rapids and Huron takes a lot of work. Selling the buildings will allow the 69-year-old Logan to scale back a bit and have more time with his family. However, the Mitchell businessman is not retiring, as Logan has shown no signs of slowing down after reopening the Starlite Drive-In theater this past summer.

Although Logan has three children, his daughter, Jennifer Gades, is the only one who resides in Mitchell. Logan has gauged their interest in taking over the buildings, but they were content with selling the two properties.

“For Jenny, she’s interested in the theater, but not so much the real estate business,” Logan said. “My other two kids have their lives built where they are in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, Utah. They are happy to be where they are.”

When Logan’s grandfather, George Logan, took ownership of the 200 N. Main St. building in the late 1890s, Main Street was a dirt road. At that time, Logan’s grandfather was president of First National Bank that sat across the street from the building in downtown Mitchell. Logan said his grandfather took possession of the building after he parted ways with the bank, and part of his exit agreement was the bank had to buy him out. Instead of buying him out in the form of a money payment, the bank offered Logan’s grandfather a handful of downtown properties, and the 200 N. Main St. building was one of them.

That’s when the Logan family’s real estate origins in Mitchell began. As Logan’s father, Nelson, was working as a building inspector for the city of Los Angeles in the 1930s in the midst of the Great Depression, he returned to Mitchell to help with the family's real estate properties.

“During the Great Depression, my grandfather was worrying himself to death because all but one of the seven buildings he owned in Mitchell had been vacant,” Logan said. “So my grandma sent him a telegram, asking for my dad to come back and help out with the properties. Well he came back for what supposed to be a short period of time, and then he opened the Roxy movie theater in one the buildings they built and ended up staying for the rest of his life.”

As an only child, Logan was the one who could keep the buildings in the family. While it wasn’t always part of his plan after graduating from college, Logan came back home to help his father run the movie theater and the real estate properties.


“These buildings kept bringing us back to Mitchell,” Logan said. “Although I’m scaling back a bit now, I’m proud to have continued keeping everything in the family.”

The long-time 2nd and Main building was sold from Jeff and Linda Logan the Jay and Janet Fritzemeier and the building just to the east to Kelly Gross from the Logans. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Preserving history

From a young age, Logan learned the ropes of maintaining historic buildings. Logan said his father taught him how to repair everything from the boiler to plumbing issues.

While he has a deep connection to his family’s buildings, Logan knows it takes a lot of work and money to maintain them. However, he said there are ways to reduce the costs of upkeep such as applying for grants to lower restoration costs. But most importantly, Logan said, is addressing structural issues to the building in a timely fashion.

Over the past few years, Logan has watched Main Street undergo some drastic changes. Among some of the most notable changes has been the loss of three long-standing buildings, some of which date back to the late 1800s. After years of neglect, the city of Mitchell had to step in and demolish several aging buildings that became an eyesore to downtown Mitchell like the 301 and 305 N. Main St. building. But Logan has been one property owner who has shown old downtown buildings can be maintained to last.

“If you maintain a building, it can be viable,” Logan said. “It belies some people who say, ‘Oh these buildings are beyond repair,’ but if you keep them up along the way as they age and do your maintenance they can be viable. Janet’s (Fritzmeier) building has always had tenants renting it out.”

Considering the 200 N. Main Street building — built in 1887 — is one of the longest-standing structures in downtown Mitchell, Fritzmeier, a local realtor with Crane Realty, said the great condition it’s in today shows how much upkeep Logan put into it over the years.


“My big attraction to it was it being one of the oldest buildings on Main Street, and we’re the longest-running real estate office in town, so it only made sense to have the oldest well-maintained building be the office home,” Fritzmeier said. “The building is in great shape, which is amazing with how old the building is.”

All of that time helping his father keep up his properties, Logan's connection to Mitchell history has lasted and now he's handing them on with hopes that there's more history to be made downtown.

“Buildings are living, breathing things, and you have to take care of them,” Logan said. “These buildings tell a story from their eras they were built in, and preserving that story is what makes our Main Street unique.”

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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