Today’s addition to the Alfred W. Rea portfolio series is the Franklin G. Writer house. Not much is known about Writer, other than he was a former mine operator and long time resident of Joplin. He passed away on January 16, 1933. Writer lived at a number of addresses, and as such, we are not quite sure if the cottage survives or not. One address from a Joplin directory in 1916 is 639 N. Pearl, but due to the presence of leafy trees, we are unable to confirm the cottage’s survival. According to the 1910 Census, the Writers resided at 720 N. Moffett Avenue, which at a glance appears to show the absence of a house. The Writer family would have lived just a few blocks away from Alfred W. Rea. None the less, the Writer family had the privilege of being captured in front of their home over a century ago. Presumably pictured is Franklin Writer, his wife Martha L. Writer, and their daughter, Harriet age 6 with what was most likely her favorite doll.
Today’s featured Garstang & Rea house is the B.B. Johnson residence located at 417 N. Byers Avenue. Although the house still exists today, the paint color has changed, and there is much more vegetation surrounding it. We are happy to see that yet another Garstang & Rea creation has survived.
(Special thanks to Leslie Simpson, Director of the Post-Memorial Art Reference Library, for tracking down the B.B. Johnson house today!)
A.H. Rogers, one of the more influential men in Joplin’s history, who wrested control of the Joplin Globe from Gilbert Barbee, had a home in the area of the Murphysburg Historic Residential District. As we work on the next depot post, and other topics like the 1903 lynching, this morning we present you with a wonderful comparison of how Rogers’ home has survived over a century. Below is a photo taken no later than 1902, and then photographs taken last summer, in 2010. The home is one of the legacies of a more bustling age in Joplin’s past.
Source: Historic Joplin collection
Yes, another before and after photograph! (There will be written content again – we promise!)
In this example, we have the home of August Michaelis. Michaelis, who deserves and will get his own post, is responsible for many of Joplin’s beautiful buildings, such as the Carnegie Public Library and Memorial Hall. He also designed the Miners’ Bank Building (which is no longer with us). For coverage of the library, see here and here. For coverage of Miners’ Bank, see here. Needless to say, there are only a few other architects who can claim to have left such a stamp on the legacy of Joplin’s architecture.
The home of an architect, it obviously was designed with care and consideration. At the moment, it is in the process of wasting away and currently for sale, and thus at risk of being bought and bull dozed. Below are two photographs that show the past of a home more than a century old and its present state.
And now the present state of the Michaelis home.
Downtown Joplin has seen its share of buildings come and go over the years. One might think that urban renewal, which ravaged much of the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, is to blame. But as much as urban renewal makes us howl here at Historic Joplin, it’s not always at fault. Back in 1907, it was announced that the Peter Schnur residence, one of Joplin’s oldest surviving buildings, would be demolished.
The Schnur residence was built in 1871 by Peter Schnur, one of the first residents of Joplin, and founder of the Joplin Evening News. When he was appointed postmaster of Joplin, Schnur sold the newspaper. According to Joel Livingston’s history of Jasper County, Mr. Schnur died in 1907 “after marching in a parade.”
The house originally consisted of two small rooms. In subsequent years the house was added on to and received an interior coat of plaster. It reportedly bore the distinction of “being the only plastered house in Joplin. The house was later sold to Charles Workizer, G.B. Young, and then to the Bell Telephone Company. The phone company planned to demolish the house in order to build an office building.
Peter Schnur’s widow, when asked about the home, said, “When we first came to Joplin and built the old house in 1871 the present city of Joplin was nothing but a prairie, not a fence, and but few buildings in sight. There were not even any laws over the place; everybody did as they pleased. My daughter, now Mrs. Ed Poter, and my son, Burt Schnur, were at that time but three and two years old, respectively.”
Mrs. Schnur recalled, “I remember well the annoyance I underwent from the fact that there was no fence around our home behind which I could corral my children. One day Burt, then about three years old, wandered away from home and got lost in the tall prairie grass on what is now Wall Street. We found him, finally, within ten feet of an open shaft, and I that night issued an ultimatum to the effect that if there was not a fence around the house within a week, I was going to leave the district. I got the fence, and I have been glad of it ever since.”
The Globe estimated that the demolition of the house would take several days before the original two rooms of the home were reached.