84 Year Old Letters Emerge in Renovation of Tornado Damaged Building

For those who might have missed it, the Joplin Globe ran an article yesterday, September 28, 2011, on the discovery of four letters during the renovation of one of the historic buildings located at 18th and Main Street.

The former home of the long remembered 18th Street Bar was damaged by the May 22nd Tornado. The owner of the building, Randy Stanley, opted to renovate the building, rather than tear it down. In the process, four letters addressed to Ray Lavett “Herbie” Gano from individuals that ranged from loved interests to jailed friends from 1927. For more details, check out the article!

City Manager Mark Rohr Guest Column – April 10, 2011

In today’s issue of the Joplin Globe,a guest column was penned by City Manager Mark Rohr. Rohr, who has been responsible for much of the downtown revitalization, discussed the city’s SPARK plan. SPARK, as Mr. Rohr explained, stands for Stimulating Progress through Arts, Recreation, and Knowledge of the past. SPARK is composed of three major points, the construction of a large gathering place known as the Town Green, construction of a Joplin Regional Arts and Performance Center, and lastly, the restoration of the Union Depot as a new home to the Joplin Museum Complex. Mr. Rohr argues in the column that by pushing forward on SPARK, it will result in more jobs and make Joplin home to more interesting pastimes and activities.

Part of this plan, hinges in theory, if not necessarily in fact, on the Joplin Museum Complex boards which will be meeting on Tuesday to discuss Mr. Rohr’s proposal to move the JMC to a renovated and restored Union Depot. While theoretically the City Council holds the purse strings of the JMC, it has so far been reluctant to support Mr. Rohr’s plans for Joplin’s future by reminding the JMC boards where the majority of the museum’s funds originate from. If you know someone on one of the two boards which oversee the museum, urge them to support the plan. It’s not just a plan to bring jobs to Joplin or money and entertainment to the city, but also a chance to help preserve one of the most important structures left in a city that has unfortunately watched too much of its history demolished and paved over.

Joplin Church Celebrates 90th Anniversary

On Sunday, the Joplin Globe reported on the 90th anniversary of the Joplin Church of God. Established in 1921, the church initially located from one spot to another before finding its permanent residence at 1402 S. Michigan Ave. The article notes the pastors who played prominent roles in the church’s history, as well a seminal moment when in the thick of the Second World War, the church became the spiritual home to a number of soldiers from nearby Camp Crowder.


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Joplin Globe article on Joplin High School

For those who might have missed it, the Saturday edition of the Joplin Globe carried a brief history behind the construction of the Joplin High School building built at Eighth and Wall.   The article covers the story from the school building’s initial planning, its architect, as well student efforts to raise support for the idea, and its eventual construction.  At the end of the article, one can find a short note on the influence of the First World War and small pox.

Source: The 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!

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 Globe Coverage of the Newman Building’s 100th Birthday

In case you missed it, last Saturday the Joplin Globe ran an article on the 100th birthday of one of downtown’s most illustrious surviving buildings, the Newman Building.  The article, by Debby Woodin,  offers both a brief history of the Newman retail business and the building.  Additionally with the article are some nice era photographs of the interior of the building when it was at its height.  Now the home of city hall, the building is one of the shining examples of why it’s so important to preserve Joplin’s past.

The Newman Building circa 1913.

Source: Joplin Globe, Historic Joplin Collection

Globe Overview of the Union Depot

Joplin Union Depot

East Facade of Joplin Union Depot

This last weekend, the Joplin Globe offered up a summary of the present situation with the Union Depot.  In addition, the Globe put together a short timeline of events for the Depot from its opening over 99 years ago.

The summary covers in brief the past attempts at restoring the Union Depot, including an offer in 1973 by the Kansas City Southern to deed the Depot to the city.  That proposal was nixed by the then head of the Joplin Museum Complex, Everett Richie.  The excuse given then was the danger that the active train tracks posed to the museum and its collection should it be moved to the location.

The Globe managed to speak briefly with Nancy Allman, who was the lead in the effort to restore the Union Depot in the 1980′s.  Allman did confirm that she still had in her possession some items from the Union Depot.  This is good news for the restoration of the Union Depot.  Even if Ms. Allman may not want to donate or sell the items, perhaps she would at least allow the restorers to photograph and measure the items for reproduction purposes.

Joplin Union Depot

West Facade of Joplin Union Depot

The article also brings us via Allen Shirley the 3 Key Issues for the JMC about a move to the Union Depot.  Let’s look at them one by one:

1) The Union Depot’s structural integrity.

Reports indicate that the work done in the prior restoration attempt went along way toward reinforcing and repairing structural integrity issues.  In the walk through by the Joplin Globe with David Glenn, who was part of the restoration team from the 1980′s, Glenn comments on the strength of the building.

2) There’s less than 400 sq foot than the current museum.

As we’ve pointed out in previous coverage of the Union Depot question, there are two measurements being offered of the Union Depot’s space; one from the JMC and company, and one from Mark Rohr.  It really boils down to the basement.  One side counts it and the other side doesn’t.  The basement also brings about another issue, as we’ll address below.  There’s no reason more space cannot be constructed to supplement the Union Depot and done so in a simple, elegant and complimentary manner to the Union Depot.  Here’s an off the cuff idea: enclose the concourse extending from the depot with glass, creating a beautiful glass hallway, and have the end of the concourse connect to a secondary building.  There’s plenty of space available for such an addition.  None the less, an addition may not even be necessary.

3) Environmental Control

Appropriately, the JMC Board is concerned about the presence of environmental control in the Union Depot.  It seems that it would be a matter a fact element of any renovation of the Depot, particularly a restoration performed with a archival purpose in mind.  In many ways, as photographs will often attest, the Depot is a blank canvas and now is the time where such improvements can be made and without the cost of tearing out existing material to replace it.  (That former material has already been torn out!)   Again the basement and the standing water.  Here’s a simple answer: pump any water out, replace any water damage and effectively seal the basement walls.  We’re not contractors here at Historic Joplin, but this solution does not seem to be one of great complication.

Mr. Shirley claims that the JMC board has not taken a position about the proposed move.  We would disagree.  No member of the board, or JMC Director Brad Belk, have not once said anything positive about the idea.  In the summary, Mr. Shirley does note they support the preservation of the Depot, as we would hope of those who are charged with protecting the city’s history.  However, supporting the saving of the Depot does by no means equate to supporting the idea of moving the museum.  Fearfully, three members of the City Council appear ready to allow the Board to do as it wishes, which means doing absolutely nothing.  The Board wanted Memorial Hall for a new home, turned down the offer by the Gryphon Building, and will have to be dragged into the Union Depot.

This is not the time for inaction.  Joplin has embarked on a push of re-establishing itself as a city of beautiful buildings and one engaged not only with its past, but with an active present focused on its increasingly vibrant downtown.  The relocation of the museum to the Union Depot would not only give more people a reason to visit downtown, but its better accessibility than the remote location by Schifferdecker Park would mean more would take the time to learn about the city’s glorious past.

The leadership of the city has proven itself innovative and bold by the successful and ongoing restoration downtown, we hope that the leadership does not back down at this important juncture.  The City holds the purse strings of the JMC and if the Board of the JMC is not willing to play a part in the revitalization and the new beginning of Joplin in the 21st century, the City should tighten those strings.  The Board of the JMC needs to accept that they will not always get what they want and assume a much more forward thinking position, lest they end up as dust covered exhibits they profess to preserve.

HJ Joplin Union Depot

Be Bold, Joplin!

Downtown Areas Up For Historic Designation

Today’s Joplin Globe features an article on the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and its consideration of several areas in downtown Joplin for historic district status.   The two areas that the city wants to join the Sunshine Lamp District include an area located between Joplin and Wall and 1st and 3rd streets and would be known as the Joplin and Wall Historic District, the other would be the South Main Street Historic District, an area on the west side of Main Street between 1st and 2nd Streets.   If the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation signs off on these nominations, they would then be forwarded to the Federal Register of Historic Places.  If placed on the register, buildings in the districts could qualify for Federal and state tax credits.

Here’s a link to a draft of the Joplin and Wall Historic District nomination.

The draft describes the historic area:

“”The Joplin and Wall Avenues Historic District (Photos 1‐11) consists of an approximately three square‐block 5‐acre area in the northern reaches of the central business district of Joplin, which is in Jasper County, in southwestern Missouri. The district is topographically flat and contains a total of 13 buildings dating from c. 1900 through the 1930s, all of load‐bearing masonry construction, flat‐roofed, and ranging in height from one story to five stories; no residential buildings are in the district. (continued below…)

Joplin Supply Company building

Joplin Supply Company building is included in the Joplin and Wall Historic District

“(continued…) The nominated area is located along a grid of three blocks of Joplin and Wall Streets which run north‐to south and are intersected by West First, West Second, and West Third Streets and unnamed alleys running both north‐south and east‐west. Of the 13 buildings in the district one, the Joplin Supply Company (Resource No. 13; Photos 3, 6), was previously listed in the National Register (NR 2007). Of the remaining 12 unlisted buildings, 11 contribute to the character of the district and one is a noncontributing element with reference to the district as a whole. The overall appearance of the district is entirely commercial, lacking landscaping and characterized by a grid of paved streets and alleys, concrete sidewalks, with most buildings built flush with one another. Some buildings have associated surface parking; the largest vacant parcel is associated with a 1936 former bus depot (Resource No. 5); this parcel was used historically for bus parking.”

Hulbert Chapel 2010

Hulbert Chapel, next door to the Joplin Supply Company building is also part of the nominated Joplin and Wall District

The draft provides a list of the properties, a brief description of each, as well some history.  Such recognizable buildings are the Joplin Supply Company building, the Greyhound Bus Depot across from the library, and the old court house post office building.

Here’s the link to the draft for the nomination of the South Main Historic District.

The draft describes the area as:

“The South Main Street Historic District (Photos 1‐8; Figs. 1‐4) is located in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, in southwestern Missouri. This one‐block long linear district encompasses less than one acre and occupies all of the west side of South Main Street between West First and West Second Streets and consists entirely of commercial architecture dating from the turn of the twentieth century through c. 1910. The district is located at the northern periphery of the central business district and contains ten buildings of one and two stories in height, all of load‐bearing masonry construction. Two buildings are non‐contributing elements within the context of the district as a whole and the remaining eight are contributing.

The district retains the characteristic dense concentration of development which typifies most downtown areas, with all buildings constructed without front‐lot setback. Rear‐lot setbacks vary
from building to building, and surface parking is provided behind most properties. All but two of the district’s buildings are built flush with one another; two adjacent buildings are separated by a narrow walkway. The district fronts on South Main Street, West First and Second Streets form the district’s north and south boundary, respectively, and an unnamed alley establishes the district’s western boundary. New construction and vacant lots are immediately adjacent to the nominated district, and the Joplin and Wall Avenues Historic District, nominated concomitant with this district but distinct in its own right, is to the west.”

Miles Block circa 1902

The Miles Block as it appeared around 1902.

The district primarily concerns the strip of beautiful buildings on the west side of Main Street from 2nd street up that include the striking Miles Block.

Miles Block 2010

The Miles Block, as it appears today, is included in the South Main Street District nomination

For those of you interested in learning more about the architecture used in the construction of these buildings, as well as for some brief histories, we encourage you to read the drafts in greater detail.  The Council will meet this Friday to discuss the nominations.

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.