The Mitchell Building had once been the center of Iron River, Wisconsin. Lately, it's been sitting lonely with graffiti and vandalism. Things are changing.

According to the Ashland Daily Press, the Hessey-Hatten Lumber Company built this iconic building in 1892 back when Iron River was a logging hub. In summer months, the town was flooded with loggers spending their hard-earned money at the establishments around town.

ADP says the Mitchell building housed a grocery store, men's and women's clothing store, bar, a thrift shop, and a natural food store with apartments above in the past, but over the last several years, it sat lonely waiting to be a popular building again. Graffiti litters the outer walls with vulgar words and images and vandals have ruined the interior.

Iron River contractor Nate Johnson went to town officials with a plan to bring it back. With the help of those officials, he won a Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. grant of $250,000 to help rebuild the Mitchell to house businesses and apartments.

He told the Ashland Daily Press that Mitchell has always been there, but not like it used to, and being that he grew up in Iron River, he was passionate about bringing it back. So he held a town meeting about it and heard some possible investors were interested. He had the building inspected, and to everyone's surprise, it passed.

Nate was so happy to hear that and told the Ashland Daily Press that it went from a pricey overhaul to a simple remodel with the help of the grant he received. He said without that grant the whole process would have taken years, or maybe never happened.

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Johnson says he will rip out the walls, put in new wiring, plumbing and redesign the interior and modernize the building on the inside. On the outside, he thinks it should keep its original look. He is excited about making apartment space because there is a housing shortage in Iron River.

He says June will be the start of the exterior work, and he should have it completed by the 4th of July. He will also update it for safety and to be fully handicap-accessible, in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

He told the ADP the only thing that will hold up that timeline will be the supplies, which have been short or late because of COVID. He said to help him hit his goals, he will sell the town coffee shop that he owns.

How does the town feel? The Ashland Daily Press interviewed some of the residents who said it will be great to have it look better, be active again, and bring back memories of the past when it was the building everyone knew and went to.

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