A Splendid Monument of Joplin Enterprise

On March 24th, 1901, visitors flooded into the newly opened home to the Joplin chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association.  Located at the intersection of Fourth and Virginia streets, the three story building was an achievement for the YMCA, if limited.

Established in February, 1891, the Joplin YMCA had 49 active members and 94 associated members.  Elected as the first president was J.H. Dangerfield with C.H. Adams as his secretary.  By its seventh year, the organization had opted to purchase and build a home for itself in Joplin in April of 1897.  The selected site was the then location for the Haven Opera House, which sat on the northwest corner of Virginia and 4th Streets.  For the near prime 4th and Main Street location, the YMCA paid $4,500 and allowed the opera house to continue operation until the end of the theatrical season.  It was a necessary wait, as the YMCA did not yet have the funds to begin the construction of their new building.  Nor did it believe it would raise such funds swiftly, as it entered into a contract to lease the property to the Studebaker Manufacturing Company.

The Joplin Globe stated at the time, “In purchasing the Haven opera house they have selected the best location in all the city for such a public building, and they have a nucleus of such a substantial nature that success is a foregone conclusion in securing the much needed new building.”

Gartang & Rea's plan for a 5 story YMCA building.

It was just shy of a year later that plans for the building were formally released for the public’s consumption.  The Globe boasted of the proposed design, “The building will be large and costlier than any association building ever erected in a city the size of Joplin and will surpass in elegance an convenience most of those erected in cities of greater size.  It will be, when completed, a splendid monument of Joplin enterprise and of its fostering care toward the young men of the city.”

The architects behind the design were Joplin architects Charles Edward Garstang and Alfred W. Rea, of Garstang & Rea.  The men presented a five story building which was to feature a gymnasium located on the 4th floor with a ceiling which stretched up into the 5th floor where a viewing gallery was situated.  Other proposed features were locker rooms for members and guests, as well as sleeping quarters, a camera room with dark room, a reading room, library, and a members and guests correspondent rooms.  Not to be neglected, a small barbershop was also planned for the building.

Groundbreaking occurred on September 29, 1900, and at a cost of $150,000, the YMCA’s home was built, including the cost of furnishings.  The aspirations of the YMCA had been restrained with only a three story building as the finished product.  Never the less, the Globe commented, “If no religious fervor toward the uplifting and saving of young men’s souls fills your heart even then you will be proud of their quarters as a building and a credit to Joplin, for it is certainly a beautiful place.”

The article on the opening described a rotunda located at the top of a stairway which lead from the main entrance.  The floor was tiled linoleum with dark wooden pillars about the room and chairs of the same color to match.  To the right of the rotunda a parlour, and beyond it a kitchen and dining room.  On the third floor, a visitor discovered another rotunda which offered access to a room dedicated for railroad men, as well a boy’s room for pastime and a game room for men.  The men’s game room was equipped with checkers, chess, and a fireplace.  White marble was used in the bathing apartments, which featured both plunge and shower bath arrangements.

The YMCA was not denied a large gymnasium, though instead of being found on a proposed fourth floor, was located on the second.  It, too had a balcony for viewing on the third floor.  Also on the third floor, was a stage, opera chairs, and space for meetings.  Two stain glassed windows showered the stairway to the third floor in colored light, while a electronically controlled gate prevented access to the gymnasium to those who failed to possess bathing privileges (this was overseen by a watchful secretary and a button which raised or lowered the gate).

The home of the Joplin YMCA from 1901 to 1918. Note: Future owner, the Joplin Globe, is visible just around the corner on the right.

From 1901 to 1918, the building housed the YMCA until the organization built its current building on Wall Street (a future post will cover this building’s history).  When it did so, it sold its former home to the Joplin Globe for $40,000, which promptly expanded from its original location into its neighbor.

Sources: Charles Gibbon’s “Angling in the Archives”, Missouri Digital Heritage, and the Joplin Globe.

City Celebrates Newman Building’s 100th

Last week the Joplin Globe ran a story on the 100th birthday of the Newman Building, present home to the Joplin city government.  This week, on November 16th (Tuesday), the city will be hosting a celebration of the event starting at 11 am.  The news release offered the following activities:

“Some people may have various pieces in their closets that can work for an outfit – with a little creative thinking and design. If nothing else – scarves with pendants were a big hit during that time – as were HATS!! So if wanting to participate these options might be a little easier and not too hard to find the items.

In addition, vintage cars will line 6th street for viewing and will make a nice backdrop if you would like to get a photo taken by a downtown photographer. These pictures could make a nice holiday gift for friends and family. The cars will be here from approximately 10 a.m. to 12 noon or so. The Newman Building is located at 602 South Main.”

Here’s to another 100!

Joplin Metro Magazine – Issue 6

This Month's Cover - click on the Image to Read the Issue

We recently offered an approving review of the Joplin Metro Magazine for its coverage of topics of local history.  The coverage continues with the 6th issue of the magazine designated as a Halloween / Fall issue.  The issue focuses on Joplin’s resident Spooklight, though perhaps not delving as much into the past attempts to figure out the mystery behind the light, as well the earliest encounters.  It’s still a good primer to anyone unfamiliar with the spooklight.

The best part of the issue concerned the survey of haunted sights and places in the Joplin area, which included short histories behind the locations.  Such places included the old Freeman Hospital (with photograph), Carthage’s Kendrick Place (with photograph), as well Peace Church Cemetery, where one of Joplin’s most notorious murderers now resides in an unmarked grave.  It’s articles such as this one which help show how fascinating the history right around one’s corner can really be.  Last is an article about haunted Ozark battlefields.  If you haven’t had a chance to read Issue 6 of the Joplin Metro Magazine, you might be able to still find hard copies located around town or you can read it online at this location (click here!).

Joplin Globe Coverage of the Newman Building’s 100th Birthday

In case you missed it, last Saturday the Joplin Globe ran an article on the 100th birthday of one of downtown’s most illustrious surviving buildings, the Newman Building.  The article, by Debby Woodin,  offers both a brief history of the Newman retail business and the building.  Additionally with the article are some nice era photographs of the interior of the building when it was at its height.  Now the home of city hall, the building is one of the shining examples of why it’s so important to preserve Joplin’s past.

The Newman Building circa 1913.

Source: Joplin Globe, Historic Joplin Collection

A Bed In Joplin

Curious to know how much it would have cost to stay in some of Joplin’s hotels?

In 1914, Joplin had an estimated population of 32,073 and had 21 hotels.

Here’s what it would have cost you to stay at some of Joplin’s finer establishments:

Blende Hotel

D.H. McHeeman, Proprietor

Rates: 50 cents and $1.00 per day

Clarendon Hotel

L.S. Branum, Proprietor

Rates: $1.00 per day

Connor Hotel

T.B. Baker, Proprietor

Rates: $1.00 per day and up

An illustration of the Hotel Forney from an advertisement.

Hotel Forney

I.P. Forney, Proprietor

Rates: $1.50 and up

Keystone Hotel

W.P. Walton, Proprietor

Rates: 75 cents and up

South Joplin Hotel

Gus Searr, Proprietor

Rates: $1.00 and up

Turner Hotel

William D. Turner, Proprietor

Rates: $1.25 per day

Yates Hotel

C.E. Yates, Proprietor

Rates: 1.75 per day

Robert Avett, proprietor of the House of Lords, did not respond to the questionnaire and thus while the hotel was listed in the directory, the cost of a room was not listed. The same went for many other Joplin hotels, including the following: Roosevelt Hotel, La Grand Hotel, Clarkton Hotel, Cliff House, Southern Hotel, Crescent Hotel, and Crystal Hotel.

Hotels in Springfield, hailed as the Queen City of the Ozarks and Joplin’s rival, had similar rates. The finer hotels, such as the Colonial, charged $2.50 and up per day in comparison to Joplin’s Connor Hotel, which charged $1.00 and up.

Source: Official Hotel Directory of Missouri

The Hobo Dog

In the past we’ve covered hoboes creating problems in Joplin, but this time we’ve found the story of a hobo dog. Brakemen and conductors who worked the run between Joplin and Mena, Arkansas, reported that a large Newfoundland dog was riding the rails. Although it was unknown if the dog jumped on the train in Mena, it was first noticed there “sneaking in and out of boxcars.” A brakeman, checking the cars for tramps, found the dog asleep in one of the cars and left it in peace. At the next stop, however, the dog was shooed off the train.
 
The dog, though, had other ideas and jumped unobserved back on board the train. At the next stop, however, the Newfoundland was once again discovered, and was put in charge of the stationmaster. Somehow the crafty dog managed to sneak away and jumped on board the next train. He was discovered by a porter who ushered him off the train. The dog could not be deterred and continued hopping trains until he was discovered in Neosho. A brakeman who had previously kicked the dog off a train in Arkansas was surprised to find the Newfoundland perched inside of a large furniture car. The brakeman decided to let the dog ride the train to Joplin.
 
As the engine pulled into Joplin, the dog began to bark, and once the train had stopped, it jumped from the car, and headed off to parts unknown. The Globe remarked, “It is the only incident of the kind that ever happened on the Kansas City Southern line, and perhaps the only one that ever did happen; and a dog that would have intelligence enough to ride in such a manner, instead of walking, should be highly valued by his master.”

As a present day aside, stray dogs in Moscow have also learned the benefits of riding the train.

Source: Joplin Globe

The Joplin Metro Magazine – A Review

Cover of the Joplin Metro Magazine

Cover of the Joplin Metro Magazine, published by the Joplin Globe. Click on the image to go to the magazine's facebook page.

In May, 2010, the Joplin Globe began the publication of the Joplin Metro Magazine and in the process introduced a new source to learn Joplin’s history.  The monthly magazine is not dedicated to the history of Joplin, but it has on several occasions covered Joplin’s history.   As the magazine’s editor, Scott Meeker wrote in its first issue, the magazine is “a celebration of our city’s past, present and future…”

In its first issue, Joplin Metro set a fascinating beginning with coverage of the history behind Boomtown Days and then featured an article about the Post Memorial Reference Library with extensive quotes from its director, Leslie Simpson (Joplin’s expert on the city’s architecture and history).  The issue concluded its historic coverage with a piece on the presently dilapidated Union Depot (the restoration of which has been an ongoing topic for us here at HJ).

Following issues, such as issue 3, had a cover article on the Bonnie and Clyde Joplin Hide Out, owned and operated by Phillip McClendon.  It was then followed by perhaps its most comprehensive coverage yet of Joplin’s history, with several pages dedicated to a number of the city landmarks, both remaining and vanished.  This included brief histories about the House of Lords, both Freeman’s and St. John’s hospitals, and the Crystal Cave.  Other topics were the Joplin Little Theater and the Civil War violence that occurred on nearby Rader Farm.  Concluding the history coverage was an article on a Webb City man and the World War One memorabilia collection that arose from his personal interest in his grandfather.

The strengths of the magazine’s coverage of Joplin’s history are the humanistic approach to the topics, bringing them forward in an easily accessible format and the photographs used to illustrate the topics.  The weakness, if it can be applied in this case, is that the coverage is not meant to be academic in nature and can be just too brief to satisfy one’s appetite for the topic.  Also, not every issue is as plentiful in the coverage of historic topics.  None the less, Joplin Metro excels as a magazine offering coverage of Joplin’s history.  It exists as a great source to inspire further and deeper research into the fascinating aspects of the city, something that we definitely support.

For those interested in the Joplin Metro Magazine, issues are shipped to those with subscriptions to the Globe, and can also be found in a variety of places around town.