The Number of Joplin’s Historic Buildings Decreased By One: Rains Building Lost to Fire.

The Rains Building circa 1902.

The next time you cruise down Joplin’s Main Street, you may notice that yet another of the city’s historic buildings has been lost. The Rains Building, located at 906-908 South Main Street, burned on Thursday night. The building, attributed to one of Joplin’s most prominent and prolific architects, August C. Michaelis, is a tragic loss.

Built in the Renaissance Revival style at the turn-of-the century for brothers Charles and George Rains, it brought an understated architectural elegance to the block.

Like many buildings along Joplin’s Main Street, it was home to several different businesses including the Miner’s Hardware Company, the Bullard-Bell Company, and the Roosevelt Hotel. By the 1970s, only the first floor was in use as an antiques shop. When the building was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, it was noted that little, if any, alterations had marred Rains Brothers Building original design over the years, unlike many other buildings.

Rains Brothers Building Image via, Rains Building circa summer 2010.

Here is a link to the Joplin Globe‘s coverage of the fire and here is a link to the National Register of Historic Places, a source for more detailed information on the building.

Guest Post: Down Not Out – Leslie Simpson


By Leslie Simpson

On a pleasant Sunday evening, May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado suddenly raged through densely-populated south Joplin.  It destroyed almost everything in its path for 13.8 miles in distance and up to a mile in width.

The tornado smashed down in southwest Joplin, wrecking residential areas, Cunningham Park, schools, medical offices, and a major hospital complex, St. John’s. It headed east, obliterating untold acres of late nineteenth and early twentieth century houses.  The storm’s wrath intensified as it forged east, razing businesses along Main Street, more neighborhoods, and Joplin High School.  It wiped out much of the lifeblood of Joplin’s economy, the commercial strip on Range Line Road, then rampaged on, demolishing housing, banks, industrial buildings, and more schools and churches.  It finally dissipated east of Joplin, after destroying or damaging an estimated 8,000 homes and businesses.

At the time of this writing, authorities have confirmed 138 fatalities, a number which continues to rise.  More than 1,150 people sustained injuries.  The Joplin tornado, the deadliest since modern record keeping began in 1950, ranks eighth among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.

We are in shock.  We drive familiar streets yet cannot even recognize where we are.  The cruel landscape of endless rubble and shredded trees reminds us of shattered lives and endless grief.  We have lost so much, and we are hurting on many levels.  But our spirit is strong, as evidenced by the person who spray-painted “Down not out” on the shards of his former home.

Leslie Simpson, an expert on Joplin history and architecture, is the director of the Post Memorial Art Reference Library, located within the Joplin Public Library. She is the author of From Lincoln Logs to Lego Blocks: How Joplin Was Built, Now and Then and Again: Joplin Historic Architecture. and the soon to be released, Joplin: A Postcard History.