Mills Durant-Star Building
Billings Townsite Historic District
National cigar and tobacco wholesaler Louis Cohn occupied this two-story brick building, constructed in 1919. Cohn was one of three wholesalers supplying Billings’ five cigar manufacturers with tobacco. In 1923, the building became home to Harry Gullard’s automobile dealership. One of several dealerships in downtown Billings, its presence testifies to the 1920s’ booming automobile business. Local entrepreneur J. J. Mills purchased the building in 1925. Mills opened his own dealership here, featuring the low-priced Star car, manufactured by Durant Motors. William Durant, the high-flying former CEO of General Motors, founded that company in 1921 after losing control of GM. Durant Motors was one of over forty U.S. automobile manufacturers in the 1920s. After Durant went bankrupt in the 1930s, the versatile Mills expanded into farm implements and wholesale groceries, using both this building and the one next door. The Billings Grocery Co., founded by Mills and later managed by his son, operated from this building into the 1980s.