The Architectural Legacy of Garstang & Rea:

The William Houk House

Our next featured photo from the portfolio of Alfred W. Rea of Garstang & Rea, is the William Houk House in Joplin. The house was located at 218 Sergeant Ave.

Missouri, Mother of the West, Volume 4, has this to say about William Houk, its owner:

William Houk, who died February 26, 1927, had been a resident of Joplin over a quarter of a century. He was one of the prominent figures in the mining development of Southwest Missouri, and was also a very successful financier, being president from its organization of the Conqueror Trust Company.

Mr. Houk was born at Dayton, Ohio, January 20, 1859. His boyhood and early youth were spent in comparative obscurity and poverty, and he was put to many resources and devices to realize his ambitions. When he was a small boy his father died, and he was assisted his mother on the farm. After exhausting the advantages of the rural local schools he attended a normal school, earning and paying his own way. He also took a business college course and subsequently graduated from the Cincinnati Law School. He had two years of experience as a teacher, became bookkeeper for a Cincinnati firm, and for two years practiced law. He was engaged in commercial work at Cincinnati from 1889 until 1900, when he came to Southwest Missouri. He first located at Neosho, where he engaged in numerous mining ventures, and from there removed to Joplin in 1901. He was the responsible factor in developing the Jack Rose, Cardinal and Monitor mines. His mining interests in 1903 were consolidated under the name Conqueror Zinc Companies, which became one of the most prosperous organizations in the Southwest.

The Conqueror Trust Company was organized at the home of Mr. Houk early in 1905, and he served continuously as president until his death. This institution under his active management attained resources of upwards of six million dollars. Mr. Houk owned extensive real estate interests and was a director of the Joplin Marble Quarries Company and the Minden Coal Company, was a stockholder in the Joplin Globe Publishing Company and in other corporations.

The late Mr. Houk was a man of fine taste and cultivated mind. He had been an extensive traveler. He was active in the Rotary Club, and was one of the organizers and the first president of the Joplin Civic Music Club. Mr. Houk’s first wife, Mrs. Edna C. Houk, died in June, 1911, and the one child by this marriage, Helen, died in 1912, at the age of sixteen. Subsequently Mr. Houk married Frances R. Hengelsberg, of St. Louis. Mrs. Houk and two daughters survive him. The elder daughter, Emily, is a student at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, while Edna, the younger daughter, is a junior at Highland Hall, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.


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