A Castle of Joplin for Sale

Just win Powerball? Come into a vast family inheritance? Got a spare million laying around and a need to spend it? If so, here’s the opportunity to purchase one of the Joplin area’s more peculiar historic properties.  Built sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s,  Sky High Castle commands an overlook of Reddings Mill, built on cliffs above the Shoal Creek valley.  A website for the castle describes it as such:

The interior of Sky High Castle includes hand-hewn beams overhead, two cast-bronze ceiling fans that feature retractable fan-blades, two floors each having a large stone fireplace, and many windows taking advantage of the surrounding views.

Outside, the property is also special. The Castle is perched atop a hill and large chert, stone cliffs overlooking a river valley where Shoal Creek flows. The striking appearance comes from the fact that the Castle and cliffs are made of the same color of stone, so that the whole is of impressive height and width. It is 180 feet of elevation change down to Shoal Creek below. The hillsides have been terraced with many rock walls at various levels. Walkways and stairs lead around the property offering many splendid views of the valley and Castle. Rose moss, phlox, carnations and columbine make a home on the rock walls and terraces. Surrounding the Castle are oak woods and a city park along Shoal Creek comes up to the property line on one hillside. The Castle can be viewed from the town of Redings Mill below. This is true now more than in the past as some clearing has been done.

For photographs of the interior of the castle, just click here. It stands undoubtedly one of the most unique homes in the Joplin area.  If you know any stories of the home, please feel free to share them!

The A.H. Rogers Home – Before and Now

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.

The Rogers home around 1902.

The same view of the home, as seen, can no longer be achieved. Note that the property has since been decreased in size with an alleyway going straight through the front wall.

A front view of the home (the only way to capture most of the home) reveals little has changed for the home over the last 100 years.

Source: Historic Joplin collection

August Michaelis House – Before and After

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.

August Michaelis' home in 1902.

August Michaelis' home about 1902. Note the lack of the business development that eventually would surround it.

And now the present state of the Michaelis home.

August Michaelis' home in 2010

August Michaelis' home today and in need of preservation.

Urban Renewal circa 1907

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.