Kennedy Building sold for $232,000

Nathan Thompson |
Osage County Commissioners met Aug. 16 at 4 p.m. to approve the auction sale of the Kennedy Building to investor Jay A. Mitchell II. Mitchell won the auction via phone with a bid of $232,000.

Nathan Thompson/Journal-Capital

An anonymous investor, later identified as Jay A. Mitchell II, made the winning bid via phone during an auction Aug. 16 for the historic Kennedy Building in downtown Pawhuska.

Nearly 50 people gathered in the lobby of the Kennedy Building, 550 Kihekah Avenue, for the 2:33 p.m. auction with at least three in-person bidders and the one anonymous phone bidder vying for ownership.

Auctioneer Dale Chupp handled the bidding, with the opening amount starting at $50,000. After a slow start, the price quickly rose above $200,000 during a competition with local rancher and business owner Ladd Drummond and the anonymous phone caller.

In less than 10 minutes from auction start, the Kennedy Building was sold to the investor for $232,000.

Mitchell’s name was not revealed until 4 p.m. Aug. 16, when the Osage County Commissioners met to approve the sales contract.

Mitchell reportedly owns buildings in Pawhuska and Nowata.

After the Osage County Commissioners approved the sale of the Kennedy Building to Mitchell, two residents who attended the meeting voiced concerns during public comment, hoping the buyer will restore the building and not allow it to become dilapidated.

Terry Loftis asked the commissioners if there was any stipulation requiring Mitchell to maintain and rehabilitate the building.

“The last thing we need is a vacant building downtown just sitting there,” Loftis said.

Osage County District Attorney Rex Duncan sat in the meeting and responded to Loftis’ concern, saying since the Kennedy Building would no longer be a county-owned property, it would be up to the city of Pawhuska.

District 1 County Commissioner Jerry Howerton thanked the community for the assistance in getting the Kennedy Building sold.

“I know I have shown (the Kennedy Building) six times for six different people,” Howerton said. “We need to get it back on the tax roll to benefit the county. I really want to thank everyone for their interest and for bidding. I’m glad that everyone chipped together to do what we needed to do.”

According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Kennedy Building was built in 1927 during the oil boom that brought thousands of wildcatters to town. It was known then as the Citizens National Bank building, a title that is still inscribed above the entrance to the building.

The historic nature of the four-story building as a bank is also indicated with vintage “Robbery Alarm” on the northwest corner of the structure.

In 1976, the National Bank of Commerce sold the 26,000 square-foot building to Osage County. County officials renovated the building in 1990 for the Department of Human Services and named it the Kennedy Building, in honor of National Bank of Commerce President Ed Kennedy.

Over the past several years, the Kennedy Building has remained vacant since the Department of Human Services relocated to 1100 Virginia Short Street, just north of Pawhuska Hospital.

After closing and other costs from the Aug. 16 auction, Osage County is expected to receive $214,425 from the sale. Mitchell is expected to close on Sept. 15.