Law firm to replace downtown antique store after building sold – Leader Publications
DOWAGIAC — When a downtown building went up for sale, an Indiana man with ties to Dowagiac jumped at the chance to return to town.
In January, attorney Marcel Lebbin purchased 140 S. Front St. after being appointed Dowagiac City Attorney in December 2021. Following the purchase, antiques retailer RUsT closed and held a liquidation sale in March.
In addition to working with the city, Lebbin said he plans to open Lebbin’s law office to serve other members of the community, as well as spending more time in Dowagiac.
“We wanted the building because my wife loves downtown Dowagiac,” Lebbin said, adding that his wife grew up spending summers in Sister Lakes. “Our children are still going there. The lakes were actually a big draw. That’s why we knew about Dowagiac in the first place.
While he said he expected to move into his downtown space in February, Lebbin’s plans have been delayed as RUsT owner Ann Velthouse continues to empty her store.
“I already want the office there,” he said. “I’ve done my best to work with Ann…If I don’t hear from her by the end of April, we’re going to have to start looking at other options.”
Velthouse declined to comment. However, the blue RUST panel was removed from the facade and brown paper was affixed to the front windows.
Lebbin continued his undergraduate studies at Purdue University and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the Dayton School of Law. He previously worked at Dowagiac as an associate with Mishawaka-based firm May, Oberfell & Lorber, which moved into the James E. Snow Professional Building in 2016.
“I was part of the reason they put that office up there,” Lebbin said. “We really like small towns. Dowagiac is a wonderful place and there is a need in the legal community, so hopefully we can fill some of that and fill the void.
Lebbin’s brother, Nicholas Lebbin, will also join Dowagiac’s office.
“Between the two of us, we’ll be able to handle most things,” Lebbin said. “I specialize in corporate and municipal law, as well as real estate and estate planning. … My brother, he’s newer, but he’s been working in Minnesota for a few years. He’s worked in the criminal justice system — not that he’ll become a criminal defense attorney, but he has more experience on the trial side. We will work on whatever needs to be done, but real estate, estate planning and general business will be our priority.
A Michiana native, Lebbin serves the community as a board member of REAL Services, Student Hunger Drive and Stepwise, a program helping children with educational difficulties, according to his website.