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Log Cabin Grill is no longer considered potential landmark

Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission opts to remove the property from the city's list of properties to review as potential landmarks.

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Ben and Helen Mitchell's Log Cabin Grill and Motel in January 1958. It was located halfway between Rochester and Marion on Marion Road.
Contributed photo/History Center of Olmsted County Research Center and Archive
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ROCHESTER — The final piece of a one-time Rochester roadside attraction is no longer considered a potential city landmark.

Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission members voted unanimously to remove the former Log Cabin Grill from the city’s list of potential local landmarks without comment Tuesday.

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“In this case, it’s really about the loss of historic integrity,” Molly Patterson-Lungren, the city’s heritage preservation and urban design coordinator, told the commission prior to the vote.

The former grill, which was once a destination for visitors and Rochester residents, was built in 1947 alongside the former Log Cabin Motel, which included several cabins at 2345 Marion Road.

The last guest stayed in the motel in 1985, but the Log Cabin Grill diner operated until 2011.

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The grill was the only structure to remain on the city’s list of potential local landmarks after the Log Cabin Motel and grounds were removed in 2019.

Patterson-Lungren said removal of cabins related to the motel site has significantly changed the integrity of the grill site. Where it was once an obvious diner destination, she said it now lacks the distinction.

In 2019, local businessman David Hewitt was working on a plan to dismantle the building and relocate it to operate a pop-up business, but Patterson-Lungren the plan remains uncertain.

In June, the Heritage Preservation Commission paved the way for a potential demolition permit for the site, which would allow it to be cleared as the owners prepare to sell the larger site.

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Th Log Cabin Grill and Motel today.
Post Bulletin file photo

In 2019, Lloyd "Ben" Mitchell, one of the children of the Rochester couple who built and operated the site, said the family was already preparing for potential sale of the site when they sought to have the motel removed from the potential landmark list.

No one spoke for or against the building’s potential landmark status during the public hearing Tuesday, but local business owner and historian John Kruesel spoke fondly of the building last month, while also telling the commission it was time to move forward with changing the property.

“It’s now time to let it go, so they can sell the property,” he said.

There is not a current application for a demolition permit related to the site posted on the city’s website.

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What happened: The Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission approved the removal of the former Log Cabin Grill, 2345 Marion Road, from the city's list of potential landmarks.

Why does this matter: The former grill was built in 1947 alongside the former Log Cabin Motel, which included several cabins. The motel closed in 1985, but the grill operated until 2011.

What's next: The change in status means the site won't require added review if the property owner opts to demolish or dismantle and move the building.


Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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