Tonight is a view of Joplin from the Keystone Hotel circa 1902 taken by resident photographer and bookseller, T.W. Osterloh. Prominent is the Columbian Block with its double cupolas and to its right, the Busch building. On the street is one of Joplin’s trolleys making its way down Main Street.
The Grome Building was constructed in 1901 at a cost of $24,000 (more than $548,436.36 in 2011 dollars) for Edward Zelleken, one of Joplin’s wealthiest German immigrants. The building at 506 S. Main Street was home to the Ben F. Wurzel Clothing Company and medical and dental offices. Notably, the offices of Garstang & Rea were located in the Grome Building home until their move to California. In later years, the building was home to Ralph L. Kassab’s business. At some point in the second half of the twentieth century, the beautiful facade was replaced with the current exterior. Nonetheless, the Grome Building still stands, one of the century old residents of Joplin’s historic Main Street.
Leslie Simpson, the director of the Post Memorial Art Reference Library, writes in the epilogue of Joplin, “This book is my love letter to the city of Joplin, of which I am proud to be a citizen!”
Simpson’s latest book is a wonderful love letter to Joplin, a fine work that covers the history of the city from its establishment in 1873 to the present day. It is a lavishly illustrated postcard history of the city accompanied by detailed, informative captions. The book provides readers with an understanding of the people, places, and events that shaped Joplin into the city that it is today. Simpson does an excellent job of balancing the past and present so that readers are taken through Joplin’s early years, subsequent growth, Route 66 years, up until the time of the tornado.
The book is helpfully divided into nine sections that cover different topics such as mining, industry, residences, schools, churches, and hotels. Although one might expect that because the book is postcard history the book might be poorly researched, it is not. The captions for each illustration are insightful, well written, and historically accurate. Each illustration has been carefully chosen and offer unique glimpses into Joplin’s social, cultural, religious, and architectural history.
Sadly, Simpson’s work illustrates just how many Joplin buildings and other landmarks have been lost to the ravages of time, benign neglect, or lack of vision. Our advance copy notes that “Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the Joplin Chamber of Commerce Business Recovery Fund” so you can be assured that your money will go to a good cause. We also recommend that you might consider giving a donation the Post Memorial Art Reference Library.
Those who own Leslie Simpson’s prior works may recognize some, but not all of the images used, however all offer entertaining glimpses into Joplin’s past. For those who have and enjoyed the above mentioned Now and Then and Again, they have a great companion to Joplin.
Joplin is a well written and illustrated history of Joplin, Missouri. It is accessible to readers of most ages and is a enjoyable read for those who enjoy local history, the history of Joplin, and illustrated histories. Hopefully it will leave most readers with an even greater appreciation for the City that Jack Built.
Joplin, $21.99, Arcadia Publishing
Available at Hastings and through the publisher at www.arcadiapublishing.com