A Chilly Ride to the Past

A street car makes its way up Main Street

Street Cars used to be found traveling up and down the major streets of Joplin and connected the city to the surrounding communities. For those of you who would like to experience the real thing, you can catch a ride on the “Polar Express” up in Webb City this coming weekend at King Jack Park. A year long resident of the park, the street car is literally rolled out from time to time for the joy of taking a ride on her.

You can watch the street car carry ticket holders from last week from 1 to 3 pm, or grab a free ticket and take a ride from 3 to 6pm. Don’t miss this chance to experience a bit of the past!

Source: Joplin Globe

Update on Gryphon Building and Dedication of Joplin High School

There are two articles concerning history in the Joplin Globe this weekend.  The first is a further update on the recently renovated Gryphon Building.  Last week we referred to an article on the present status of the building and its progress in finding tenants.  In that article, it was mentioned that a restaurant would be entering the building.  This weekend brought more news along that front.

Richard and Amy Sanell, owners of the successful Cafe on the Route over in Baxter Springs, will be the ones behind the Gryphon building restaurant.   Of interest, Richard Sanell suggests that the menu might be based upon previous menus of downtown’s former great dining locations, the Connor hotel and the House of Lords.  More info on the Sanells and their plans can be found in the article.

The other article is a short write up by Joplin Museum Director, Brad Belk, on the dedication of Joplin High School in 1958.  The article briefly covers the decisions behind building the new school, the funding measures that succeeded and failed, and the final result with some specifics, such as the number of bricks used in the school’s construction.

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend.   Now back to the trenches!

Carthage Christmas Homes Tour

For those of you who missed the announcement in last Sunday’s Globe, it was announced that the Carthage Historic Preservation, Inc., will be running a historic home tour next month (click on the link for descriptions of the featured homes).  The tour will run from 10 am to 4pm on December 4th for a price of $20 at the door, but buying a ticket in advance will save you $5.  A tea will also be available for $6, and Christmas/Winter themed paintings by regional artists will be available for purchase.  It’s a great chance to enjoy history quite literally from the inside out.  For those of you who love turn of the century homes and just don’t get the chance to visit them often enough, next Saturday will be an opportunity not to be missed.

Gryphon Building Finds Tenants

Good news reported by the Joplin Globe this Sunday, the Gryphon Building which had been in search of tenants is now at approximately 65% full. The Globe reported the new inhabitants being, “The first tenant was the U.S. Treasury Department, which occupied its space Sept. 17. The other tenants are Employer Advantage, Stouffer Communications, Sunrise Media Group, Reliance Communications, Onshore Technologies and Localbase. These companies are occupying the third through fifth floors.”

Joining the above mentioned is the Gryphon Business Development Center, Bourne Logistics, as well a restaurant which will serve lunch and dinner, and also have a bar.  Purportedly, the restaurant will be run by a successful local area restaurateur.

One of the key elements of saving Joplin’s historic buildings is making sure that they find that new life as homes to either people or businesses.  So good news for the Gryphon building!

Source: Joplin Globe

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!).

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.

A Quick History In The News Round Up

Joplin's Missouri Pacific Depot as of July, 2010

Joplin's Missouri Pacific Depot as of July, 2010

A couple things have popped up in the Joplin Globe over the last few days.  In good news, the old Missouri Pacific Depot that was saved and moved to its present location by David Glenn has found new owners.  Glenn bought the depot when it was scheduled to be destroyed and carefully relocated it to its spot off of Rangeline where it opened up as Timberline restaurant.  In the future, we’ll provide a little more history on this smaller depot of Joplin’s past.   The new owners are Raymond and Amy Yen, who will re-open it later this year as a far eastern restaurant.  Let’s hope when it comes to decoration that they don’t alter anything original!

The other news item has to do with the arrival in Joplin of general American history, a restored B-17 Flying Fortress, the Liberty Belle. Just like another restored B-17, Aluminum Overcast, the Liberty Belle, never saw combat due to being produced at the end of the war.  However, that doesn’t make her any less grand a lady.  It’s highly recommended to go visit the Liberty Belle when she arrives on August 29 at the Joplin airport.  For those of you in Springfield, she’ll visit Springfield’s airport a day earlier on August 28.   Check here for her schedule and more information about the Liberty Belle.

Tepidness Reigns Supreme at Museum Board Meeting

Joplin newspaper cartoon

Don't Let the Obstructionist Win!

This last week’s meeting of the Joplin Museum board was a showcase in tepid response to bold planning for the future.  The topic of the meeting, covered by the local news station KODE, was the possible relocation of the museum to the Union Depot.  The news segment featured interviews with board member Allen Shirley and City Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg.

Shirley continued what is now becoming a two month long hem haw of expressing a cautious disapproval for the idea of moving to the Union Depot.  The main point expressed by Shirley in his interview was the lack of exhibit space, a point raised by Museum Director Brad Belk previously.  The matter of sufficient space appears to be growing into the banner to be waved by the Joplin Museum Board, we expect to hear it raised again and again as their argument against the move.

From even before City Manager Mark Rohr’s presentation, the Joplin Museum Board has not wanted to move to the Union Depot, and since the presentation, have protested as much as possible without appearing reactionary.  It is clear that if the Joplin Museum Complex is to be moved to the Union Depot, the board will have to be dragged kicking and screaming.  The angry child who did not get its prized relocation and taxes to take over Memorial Hall now just want to take their ball and go home, rather than settle for something less than they desired.

Disconcertingly, the meeting was attended by three city council members, which as the news report explained were there in support of the museum board.  Of the three, only Benjamin Rosenberg opted to speak with a reporter and offered a fascinating rebuttal against Mark Rohr’s well grounded plans for Joplin’s growth over the next five years.  Rosenberg, when asked about the plan declared, “I had no part in the city manager’s vision.  I had no pre-warning. I had no consultation with the city manager.”  By all appearances, it seems Mr. Rosenberg does not like or agree with Rohr’s plan that was presented earlier this summer.

Rosenberger also told the reporter that he strongly believed the fate of the museum should be left in the hands of the museum board and not forced by the hand of the city.  This would be a rational position to take were the museum lead by forward thinking, competent and experienced individuals, but that is not the case.  The only imaginative thinking the museum has displayed in recent years has been to spring an idea that was overwhelmingly disapproved of by 75% of the city’s voting residents.  Meanwhile, the popularly supported plan of moving the museum to the Union Depot languishes because neither the museum board nor apparently some of the city council are willing to take bold steps for Joplin’s future.

Is Joplin anymore the city of Thomas Connor, Charles Schifferdecker, or Thomas Cunningham?

We say nay!

Where is the vision?  Why the desire for mediocrity?  Where is the leadership that has helped to restore downtown?  Joplin became the city that is resplendent with beautiful buildings and good people because its leaders in the past were unwilling to quietly abide.  It would do the museum board well to remember this, a lesson they should learn if they are at all familiar with the history they have sworn to safe keep.

HJ Union Depot image

It Is Time To Be Bold!

Historic Ozark Memorial Park Threatened with Auction

In today’s Joplin Globe is an article covering the current financial status of Ozark Memorial Park.  The cemetery, located at the corner of St. Louis and Langston Hughes Broadway, was established in 1928 by George W. Crocker.  The cemetery has remained a family business ever since, but several judgments by the state and county for failure to pay taxes may result in the cemetery business being sold at auction.

Got Any Photos of the Union Depot?

Earlier this week, the Joplin Globe ran a story concerning a request for photographs of the Union Depot.  As part of the growing movement to renovate the Union Depot, architect Chad Greer has requested of the public any and all photos of the Union Depot’s interior.  A visit to the Depot will reveal that there is very little left in the old train station at the moment, much of it stripped during the previous attempt at renovation.  For links to some interior photographs and a video walk through of the interior, see this previous post.

In the realm of restoration, the goal is to achieve the closest resemblance to the past as possible.  Achieving that aim can also be expensive, hence the need to know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.  For those who might have interior shots of the Union Depot, see the first link for contact information with Mr. Greer.  Importantly, you don’t have to relinquish those family photographs, either, Greer and his associates can make a copy of your photograph and let you keep the original.  An additional aspect of this request is to build up a photographic archive as a historic collection, something we naturally applaud.

HJ Union Depot image

Got a Photo of the Union Depot's Interior? Help 'em out!