Alfred W. Rea: An Architect’s Portfolio

Unity Baptist Church (African-American), Joplin Missouri.

One of the joys of researching the past is serendipitously stumbling across a wonderful discovery, but sometimes a wonderful discovery finds you. We are excited to announce that a relative of preeminent Joplin architect Alfred W. Rea contacted us last week and informed us that he will generously share photographs of roughly seventy-six different buildings that Rea and his partner, Charles E. Garstang, designed during their time in Joplin.

Alfred Willemin Rea was born on August 12, 1869, in Decatur, Illinois. He attended the University of Illinois and graduated with a B.A. in 1893. Rea worked as a draftsman in several architectural firms, including Wigg & Mahurin (Ft. Wayne, Indiana); J.W. Ross (Davenport, Iowa); Reeves & Baillie (Peoria and Decatur, Illinois). He later partnered with Charles E. Garstang and established Garstang & Rea in Joplin in 1901. The firm later relocated to Los Angeles, California, where Garstang and Rea continued to design buildings until their retirement in the 1940s.

A.H. Rogers Building

The whereabouts of the papers and portfolio of Garstang are currently unknown, but Rea’s portfolio is comprehensive. Fortunately, because Rea labelled the majority of the photographs in his portfolio, we believe that the photos and their labels will provide the most complete list of Garstang & Rea’s work known to date. The firm, it turns out, not only designed buildings in Joplin, but designed buildings in Monett and Nevada, Missouri, and Winfield, Kansas.

We will work to place these photos online so that others can enjoy them and celebrate the work of two of Joplin’s finest architects. The images will appear on Historic Joplin and on Flickr with the permission of the owner.

Joplin Tobacco Company building

If you have photos you would like to share with Historic Joplin, let us know: