Museum Boards Meet to Discuss Depot Plans – HJ’s Response

Today’s Joplin Globe reported that the Joplin Museum and Historical Society boards met to discuss the Gryphon Building and Union Depot as potential locations for the Joplin Museum Complex. Both boards voted against a proposal to purchase the newly renovated Gryphon Building. The cost of the Gryphon Building was far too high for the museum.

Joplin Museum Complex Director Brad Belk then discussed the Union Depot. After noting, “It is better laid out than the current museum location” he claimed the size of the depot is smaller than the current museum facility and that it has water issues in the basement.


The depot is almost one hundred years old and has been sitting empty since the 1970s. With no windows, no doors, and no maintenance, it’s not surprising that it has a few issues. At least one architect and one contractor have expressed their opinion that the structure is sound and built to last.

It seems Belk and the museum/society boards are dragging their feet when there is a golden opportunity before them. They could be heroes! Imagine – revitalizing the Union Depot, a beautiful structure that stands on the site of the lead strike that led to Joplin’s very existence – and helping anchor and rehabilitate north downtown Joplin. Instead, they are letting a few puddles of water and space concerns constrain them.

Look into the water issue. Talk to architects about the cost and design of an addition to the current structure that would bring needed additional space that would, at the same time,  preserve the architectural integrity of the depot. The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City managed to do this.

Now, we realize that the museum complex is poor as a church mouse and that its board members are unable and/or unwilling to cough up a significant amount of funds needed to bring in a renown architect and build a modern addition like the Nelson-Atkins. That isn’t necessary. What is necessary is that the boards and Belk seize this opportunity. A local architect can be found who can create a tasteful and aesthetically pleasing addition.

They have no concept of vision. But, then again, it seems that the museum and society boards are populated by good old boys who know very little about museums and historic preservation.

Why not look into Mark Rohr’s proposals of grants and other funding methods to make the dream come true? It certainly would be better to try and fail in this case rather than just sit and do nothing but complain and grumble.

Let’s face it.

In April the voters declined to support the museum’s pathetic takeover of Memorial Hall. Memorial Hall is over. Move on. Move on to what people are actually voicing support for. Museum attendance across the nation has been declining for years. Either you march into the future or you wait to be swept up into the dustbin of history and irrelevance.

What will it be?

In memory of the feisty Joplin Globe and News-Herald editors of yesteryear who never failed to express their opinion whether popular or not.

Historic Joplin - Support the Union  Depot Proposal

Don't Let The Museum Board Balk at A New Home!

A Dog’s Story

Moxie the Dog with flag in mouth

Moxie posing with her flag. From the "Bale Mill Odessey" by Judy Hurdle.

It is rare but not unheard of that a dog’s passing would make the news. Moxey was one of those dogs. Moxey, the beloved pet of Hardy Hardella, passed away from old age and indigestion at the age of twelve in the early summer of 1907. Moxey was given a “decent burial” for he “had earned recognition above that accorded to the average dog.”

Moxey or Moxie, a Scotch Collie, was born on February 27, 1895, in the kennels of Senator Julius C. Burrows of Michigan. Mr. Hardella, the manager of Hardella Dye Works, bought Moxey a month later.   Historic Joplin will dedicate a post to the interesting life of Hardy Hardella at a later time.  In Joplin, Moxey was “one of the best known residents of the neighborhood at Third Street and Jackson Avenue” and was “famous for its utilitarian service.” Moxey, it seems, did not believe in performing “foolish tricks” like shaking hands or rolling over.

Moxie the dog Ad

An advertisement featuring Moxey.

Instead, he was known for carrying around a basket of “meat or vegetables all day if necessary.” Moxey “would quickly learn and gladly perform” any useful action. He and his owner were so close that it was said that Mr. Hardella never whipped Moxey so as not to “estrange the fine devotion of the sagacious animal.” Moxey’s owner turned down an offer of $300 to sell Moxey to the owner of the Wallace Show, a traveling circus that at one time was second in size only to Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  Moxie was known for leading parades while clutching an American flag in her mouth.

Moxey's image in her obituary.

Moxey's image in her obituary.

Upon Moxey’s death, Mr. Hardella purchased a “pretty coffin for the magnificent dog” and was buried with the same reverence “as would have been a child.” The Joplin News-Herald eulogized Moxey, “The small part of the world with which he came in contact is better, probably, because he lived. Such dogs seldom live. Their influence is good.”

Moxey the dog

Moxey, from the private collection of Judy Hurdle.

Sources: Joplin News Herald, Missouri State Archives Death Certificate Database, Livingston’s History of Jasper County, Bale Milling Odyssey by Judy Hurdle