The House of Lords: The Place of Quality

House of Lords Bar in Joplin Missouri

For the early shining decades of Joplin’s history, there was one place to have a drink and a meal. It was the House of Lords. It was an attitude cultivated by the establishment, as shown in the advertisement below from the first decade of the 1900′s. Also below is a glimpse inside the famed locale, a view of the cafe area and above, the bar.

House of Lords advertisement
House of Lords Restaurant in Joplin

House of Lords

This photograph comes to Historic Joplin courtesy the great-grandson of Joseph “Joe” Dorizzi. Dorizzi is the man standing in the center of the photo flanked by two unknown men. He was one of the last to own the famed House of Lords. Notice the large, vertical House of Lords Budweiser sign – it replaced a smaller sign that hung outside the establishment years earlier. Although we’ve come to know the Budweiser Clydesdales and even the Budweiser frogs, you’ll see that in this case it’s a Budweiser mule team in front of the House of Lords. Perhaps it was a tip of the hat to the noble Missouri mule. We thank the owner of the photo for sharing this incredible treasure.

Dining at the Connor: 1923

Another in our “Where to Eat Should You Time Travel Back to Joplin” series brings a menu from the Connor hotel in June, 1923.  A little more accessible than the previous menu from the House of Lords, this time period marks the era when the Connor was the undisputed place to stay when visiting Joplin or passing through.  In her lobby passed all famous men and women and below are a few things they might have enjoined at the Connor’s restaurant.

 

The Lady in the Window

If you have ever lived in  Joplin, you have undoubtedly heard about the House of Lords.  Usually one hears a story that goes like this: Bar on the bottom floor, gambling on the second floor, and a brothel on the third floor.  After reading years of Joplin newspapers, we can honestly say that yes, there is truth in the story. There were slot machines, there were countless rounds served at the bar, and yes, there were prostitutes working the building. This excerpt from a letter describes what one resident saw one day while working downtown:

Joplin Main Street

On the left, the House of Lords, on the right, the Joplin Hotel. Neither quite shared the same clientele.

“Two weeks ago last Saturday night, I, stood in front of the Joplin Hotel, and such a sight as was seen on the opposite side of the street cannot be forgotten.  A drunken, brazen, disgusting prostitute stood in front of a window in the third story of the House of Lords as naked as when she came into the world, in plain view of the hundreds of people walking up and down the street, and not an officer with the courage or decency to prevent it.  Ladies were obliged to turn their faces or leave the street; and I am told that the proprietor of the hotel cannot assign a lady a front room because of the character of the occupants in the building across the street.  Sodom and Gomorrah were never sunk as deep in the depths of infamy and vice as this, and the prayers of the wives and mothers of Joplin will be answered.”

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!