Main Street building demo sad, but necessary

By Tim Huether

The old building on the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street in Martin, recently known as the Justus Building, was demolished and hauled to the Martin City dump last weekend, ending the structures century old existence in the community. 

The lack of upkeep caused the demise of the structure, and the most recent owners had left town and did not pay the taxes, resulting in the County taking over ownership. When nobody put a bid in on the building during a sale, it put the County in the position of retaining ownership and responsibility for the dangerous condition it posed. 

The City of Martin and Mayor Gary Rayhill stepped in and said they would assist in removing the building, but had to wait until the new landfill was ready to go and after a long wait, the building was finally brought down and hauled out over the weekend. There is still work to be done on the site, but the main work is completed.

Hats off to the town entities for stepping up and putting a bunch of money into this project, and it will be for the better of the community in the long run.

Looking back in the history books, we could not find the original construction date, but it appears to be one of the early Main Street buildings and it was where the very old bank was located.

After the bank was closed, H. A. Looby purchased the original building in 1930 and expanded it to the west and south. It was called L & E Mercantile Co. They sold men’s and women’s wear, groceries, prepared meats, fish, produce, kerosene, 50 gallon barrels of vinegar and many other items.

Harold “Huck” and Orpha Larson put in a Coast To Coast store in 1946, selling it in 1976 to Glenn and Phyllis Shepardson. Huck was the mayor of Martin for a while and was a county commissioner for 10 years.

In 1979, the Shepardson’s built a new store across the street and moved to that location for more space.

Circle H, a western wear and boot repair store owned by Bob and Faye Harris, started in the Old Jack and Jill Building in 1976, but moved to the corner until closing in 1997. Justus Video was there for years until it sold to NBQ Ministry in 2009. They left town and stopped paying the taxes, and the County took the property in April of 2013.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 • booster@gwtc.net