Out of Our Past

The House of Logan

Posted:  Monday, October 15, 2018 - 9:15am

The House of Logan has been a fixture in Boothbay Harbor all my life and for the lives of almost everyone now in town. For decades Logan's has been a destinaton for classic clothing. After my family moved here in 1952, it was high on the list of places for my parent's house guests, old friends and relatives, to visit since it rivaled clothing stores in their metropolitan areas. It was and is a popular place among townspeople and visitors alike.

The Old Curiosity Shop

Its beginnings date to June of 1928 when Ethel Drew Logan and her mother, Catherine Drew, bought the building on Townsend Avenue and the south corner of McClintock Street. It formerly was Owen Hodgdon's blacksmith shop among other things. The Drew family had been summer residents for some time, renting a house on Townsend Gut for years from the Reed family that ran the Oake Grove Hotel. Ethel and Catherine started their store soon after buying it in 1928, calling it the Old Curiosity Shop. They kept two tenants initially, Page's Marble & Granite Works in a tiny adjunct on the south side and Horace Hildreth's carpenter shop in the second story.

The Old Curiosity Shop offered accessories for the home: boxes, cushions, pottery, fabrics such as chintz, wallpaper, trays, and glasses featuring dogs and horses. The store's location was not described by street address in Register ads, but described as "en route to p.o." This was at a time when the post office was across the street (now Slick's) and pivotal in peope's live, with mail arriving four times a day and two daily deliveries on foot to local customers.

Ethel Logan and New Building

The nature of the contents inside the store was hinted at by the building being decorated with painted hollyhocks. According to Ethel's grandson, Bill Logan, she had an artistic and creative bent, decoating the outside of the shop and decorating some of the items in the shop. Her involvement with the Monhegan and Boothbay Harbor artists and art schools may have greatly influenced her inventory choices and her decorating. As long as the Logans were a summer family, the children, Ward "Bud" and Drew Logan, would start school here in September, transfer to Bayside, New York later in the fall, and return to school here in May. Bill explained that many summer families followed that schedule. That ended in 1935 for the Logan family when they became Harbor residents.

Within a few years, Ethel added a clothing line which occasioned a name change. The Old Curiosity Shop could imply eccentric used clothing, so her store became simply Ethel Logan. The next change came in 1938 when Ethel's teenage son Bud opened a men's clothing shop in a small ell on the north side of the shop; that enterprise ended when he enlisted in the Navy in 1942 during World War II.

Wartime brought restrictions on seemingly every conceivable commodity, including a freeze on new construction. According to a 1958 article, Ethel had hoped to build a new building, but only the plans could be drawn because of the restriction. Charles Reed pencilled the plan on a cedar shingle, and "no other plans or specifications were needed by Charles who started building with his son Ed as soon as the restriction was lifted in 1945." The new store, which opened in May 1946, follows a classic cape design and has not been materially altered in appearance so far.

House of Logan

After Bud's wartime service ended, he and his brother Drew joined the business in 1947. Their partnership with their mother precipitated a final name change to House of Logan since the business was now not Ethel's alone. But changes continued with the 1948 purchase of the McClintock house north across McClintock Street from the House of Logan; it became The Village Store. Eventually Drew Logan left the business, moving to New York City. Bud and Ethel brought more innovations, adding an interior decorating section and a separate women's sportswear arm, The Clothes Horse. Some time after Bud's 1952 marriage, his wife Ann joined the business as a buyer and merchandiser, returning the partnership to three family members.

Camden and Bath Locations

In 1957 the business expanded up the coast with a site in Camden. Two years later in 1959 Bud bought the business from his mother, ending the involvement of the first Logan generation. She, with her sons' help, had accomplished the creation of a thriving business in an era when women weren't normally welcomed in the business world. One ad mockup in the family's archive showed no fewer than 12 different categories of sales items: gourmet foods, children's clothes, gifts, bargains, fabrics, rugs, wallpaper, women's sportswear, men's shop, women's shop, china, glass, and antiques.

Bud and Ann Logan carried on the retail business, consisting of the House of Logan, the Village Store, and the Camden store with no changes until the 1980s. Then in 1983 their daughter Sarah joined them in the business. Their son Alex joined the three of them in 1987, the same year Bud sold the business to the next generation. Sarah eventually devoted her time to advertising, publicity, and as a buyer of women's and children's clothes and accessories. Alex focused on the financial side of the business and as the buyer for men's clothes. The last change to the business locations was the addition of a store in Bath in 2001.

The family members who have owned the business for 90 years hit on a winning formula that's worked to keep generations of patrons coming to their locations.