history

Joplin Historic Preservation Commission Awards 2020 Jeff & Carolina Neal Award to Corner Greer Architects

The Joplin Historic Preservation Commission (JHPC) awards the 2020 Jeff & Carolina Neal Award, an award that’s part of the Commission’s annual awards program, to Corner Greer Architects (CGA) of Joplin, Missouri.

The Jeff & Carolina Neal Award is for those who made significant developments to historic preservation in Joplin by way of developing and restoring/revitalizing buildings and property within Joplin’s commercial corridors.

CGA has been committed to improving and preserving the downtown commercial corridor for many years. The projects for which CGA is being recognized include: CGA and Craven Media at 714-716 Main, completed 2012; the Orpheum Building at 6th and Main, completed 2014; FTC at Memorial Education Center, 8th and Wall, completed 2019; and two ongoing projects at Midwestern Interactive and Joplin Empire Market.     

“Corner Greer’s efforts in developing and revitalizing buildings and property downtown since 2012 has made a tremendous impact on the amenities and visual appeal of Joplin buildings, workspaces, and public facing businesses. The quality put into materials and design is apparent to anyone who has seen their work, such as the Orpheum Building restoration at 6th and Main. Joplinites should be excited by Corner Greer’s ongoing work at Midwestern Interactive and the Empire Market,” said Dr. William Fischer, Chair of the Commission’s Policy, Procedure, & Promotion Subcommittee, which reviews nominations for the awards.

The goal of JHPC’s annual awards program (est. 2019) is to celebrate and recognize the extraordinary efforts of individuals and groups who made significant contributions to historic preservation in Joplin. The program is comprised of three awards, with public nominations opening each spring.

Due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19, JHPC has postponed the 2020 public awards presentation until next year’s awards presentation. For more information, please contact JHPC Chair, Jill Sullivan, at 417-623-7953 x1041 or jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org. 



Corner Greer Architects & Craven Media, 714-716 Main Street, Joplin, MO
Courtesy of Corner Greer Architects



Infuxn (Orpheum Building), 6th & Main Streets, Joplin, MO
Photo by 1281 Photography, Drew Kimble

Franklin Technology Center at Memorial Education Center, 8th & Wall, Joplin, MO
Photo by 1281 Photography, Drew Kimble

A Brief History of Forest Park Cemetery

May is Preservation Month! As such, we’re sharing brief histories of Joplin, Missouri’s four city-owned cemeteries; this is part three of four in the series.

Forest Park Cemetery is unique among Joplin’s municipal cemeteries in that it has a long history of changed ownership and is the most recently acquired city cemetery. Jeremiah Turk, an early citizen of what would become Joplin, donated land to Shoal Creek Baptist Church (No. 1) to establish a church and develop a cemetery. The church had recently split into two factions (No.1 and No.2), with the Joplin faction acquiring the land at Central Street and Range Line Road in 1884. Jeremiah Turk himself laid out Forest Park cemetery in 1888. Prior to that time, the church cemetery was referred to as Old Baptist Cemetery, Turk Cemetery, or, as in one newspaper account, Kirk Cemetery.

About 1913, another early citizen, T.C. Clary, laid out cemetery tracts alongside the Forest Park tract. Unfortunately, Clary made a bad deal with some “promotors” from Chicago in 1917 and, after going to court, his cemetery tract was put into foreclosure and purchased by the Forest Park Cemetery Association to become one Forest Park Cemetery.

Due to rapid growth, the Forest Park congregation moved to another location in 1948. Since that time, Forest Park Cemetery has changed ownership over the years, with the City of Joplin acquiring it in 1988.

In 2018-19, a subcommittee of the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission conducted an architectural survey of all four of Joplin’s city-owned cemeteries. Also, they researched and wrote nominations for the cemeteries to be included on the city’s Local Landmark/Historic Sites list. Although the nominations were submitted in summer 2019, the commission awaits a fresh survey of one of the cemetery sites before the nominations can move to the next phase of the Local Landmark nomination process. Click HERE to view the nomination in its entirety, including supporting documentation.

Mausoleum in Joplin’s Forest Park Cemetery. Photo: Paula Callihan

Contributed by Jill Sullivan, Post Art Library Director, Joplin Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson, and Missouri Preservation Board Member

A Brief History of Parkway Cemetery

May is Preservation Month! As such, we’re sharing brief histories of Joplin, Missouri’s four city-owned cemeteries; this is part one of four in the series.

Prior to the establishment of Parkway Cemetery, Joplin’s citizens – black, white, and others – were buried in the only city-owned cemetery, Fairview Cemetery. In 1931, Joe H. Myers, then Commissioner of Public Property and Public Utilities, realized that Fairview Cemetery would soon be full and considered plans for establishing a new cemetery on the new cemetery tract that ran along the east and west sides of McClelland park road. This cemetery tract eventually became two cemeteries—Parkway (east) and Osborne (west). Although this tract of land is commonly thought to have been donated to the city by the Osborne family, it was, in fact, purchased by the city during one of former Mayor Jesse F. Osborne’s administrations, around 1922.

In May 1932, a committee of Joplin’s Colored Citizens’ Club requested that Commissioner Myers set aside a portion of the newly considered city cemetery exclusively for use by Joplin’s black citizens. Myers agreed and, in 1933, announced plans to develop the east side of the McClelland park road cemetery tract solely for use by Joplin’s black citizens. Also at that time, Myers let it be known that the black plot in Fairview Cemetery was full and the city was no longer able to accommodate the burial of black persons in that cemetery (though accommodations were still being made for white persons in a new addition).

In April 1933, work began to clear the east side of the McClelland park road cemetery tract for exclusive use by Joplin’s black community. Later that same year, in August, the city commission (i.e. Council) chose ‘Parkway Cemetery’ as the official name for the new all-black cemetery. It is not known why, exactly, the Council chose the name ‘Parkway’ for the new cemetery. While the east side of the McClelland park road tract was developed as an all-black cemetery, the tract on the west side was reserved for later development for use by white persons.

Although the city-owned Parkway Cemetery opened to Joplin’s black citizens in 1933, the earliest tombstone burial date reads 1932. According to the city’s cemetery records, Joseph Stover was initially interred at Fairview Cemetery in 1932, where he was then disinterred and reinterred at Parkway Cemetery upon Parkway’s opening, in 1933. Parkway Cemetery has been in use since 1933 and continues to be in use today.

In addition to serving as a burial ground for Joplin’s black citizens, Parkway Cemetery historically served as a gathering place for black families during a time when black people had very few choices for gathering spaces. According to local oral histories from those within Joplin’s black community, funerals and celebrations of life were all-day events. Family and friends traveled from afar and used the lawn to the south of the cemetery as camping and picnic grounds. Thus, Parkway Cemetery offered an integral space for fellowship among black people and African-Americans during unfortunate times of segregation in America.

Among those interred at Parkway are veterans from World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam; former law enforcement officers; members of the Masons and the Order of the Eastern Star; and others who contributed significantly to the development of our community.

In 2018-19, a subcommittee of the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission conducted an architectural survey of all four of Joplin’s city-owned cemeteries. Also, they researched and wrote nominations for the cemeteries to be included on the city’s Local Landmark/Historic Sites list. Although the nominations were submitted in summer 2019, the commission awaits a fresh survey of one of the cemetery sites before the nominations can move to the next phase of the Local Landmark nomination process. Click HERE to view the nomination in its entirety, including supporting documentation.

Mr. and Mrs. Cuther are thought to be the first persons to purchase a burial plot in Joplin’s Parkway Cemetery. Photo: Jill Sullivan
The bridge leading to one of the picnic tables in Joplin’s Parkway Cemetery. Photo: Jill Sullivan

Contributed by Jill Sullivan, Post Art Library Director, Joplin Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson, and Missouri Preservation Board Member

Route 66 – Highway to the Stars

Route 66 – Highway to the Stars, an educational exhibit created by local history detectives and authors William and Doris Martin, is showing now through July 31 in the Genealogy, Local History, and Post Reading Room wing of our library. The Martins discovered a connection between William’s mother’s family and astronomer Edwin Hubble’s mother’s family, who were living in Marshfield, Missouri many years ago.

When William’s 91-year-old aunt told them, “This story needs to be told,” they wrote and self-published a book entitled Dreams and Adventures: The Edwin Hubble Story (2015). It’s an inspiring, never-before-told story about the amazing astronomer for whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named.

After publication of their book, the Martins continued to research astronomy and space exploration. William began creating original storyboards about Edwin Hubble and many other astronomers, astronauts, observatories, and planetariums. Many of these people and places, as it turns out, have connections to Route 66, such as astronomer Harlow Shapley and astronaut Janet Kavandi.

Discover the dreams and adventures of Edwin Hubble, learn about Harlow Shapley – the man who determined our solar system’s place in the Milky Way – visit some planetariums and observatories, soar with astronauts, and reach for the stars as you travel along Route 66 – Highway to the Stars!

A Place for All People: Introducing the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian Institution opened the National Museum of African American History and Culture on September 24, 2016. The celebration continues and reaches beyond Washington, D.C. to Joplin, Missouri, as we present “A Place for All People: Introducing the National Museum of African American History and Culture.” This commemorative poster exhibition, which is comprised of twenty 11″ x 17″ posters, will be on view in our Local History, Genealogy, and Post Reading Room wing from February 1-28, 2019.

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “A Place for All People” highlights key artifacts that tell the rich and diverse story of the African American experience. From the child-size shackles of a slave and the clothing worn by Carlotta Walls on her first day at Little Rock Central High School to Chuck Berry’s Gibson guitar, “Maybellene,” and the track shoes worn by Olympian Carl Lewis, the exhibition presents a living history that reflects challenge, triumph, faith, and hope.

The journey to establish this museum began long ago with a call for a national memorial to honor the contributions of African American Civil War veterans. After decades of efforts by private citizens, organizations and members of Congress, federal legislation was passed in 2003 to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Since then, thousands of artifacts have been collected to fill the inspiring building that has risen on the National Mall. Through its exhibitions and programs, the museum provides a shared lens to view the nation’s history and the possibility for hope and healing. It is a place where all can gather to remember, reflect, and embrace America’s story: a place for all people. For more information, visit nmaahc.si.edu.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washing, D.C., for over 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.

Book Review: The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris

This book review is not for the faint of heart nor for the weak stomached. Imagine: You’re out for a stroll in Victorian London, prepossessed with the styles of that era’s architecture as you take in the crisp, comforting wintry air. In your prepossession, you fail to notice a spot of ice ahead on the walkway and, whoops, you slip. In doing so, your tibia breaks and, very unfortunately, protrudes through your skin. Seeing your plight, a passerby summons a constable and the two carry you to the nearest hospital, where, for one reason or another, the surgeon decides that your broken leg must be amputated mid-thigh.

Suddenly and shockingly, you find yourself on a blood-encrusted table in a stifling operating theater. At least one hundred spectators, some of whom have little or nothing to do with the study of medicine, and none of whom you know, are transfixed by the surgical sport of your leg being lopped off. Luckily, your surgeon was London’s most renowned at the time, Robert Liston. Unluckily, Joseph Lister was yet to arrive on scene and, though you survived the amputation, you died an all too common death—that of hospitalism. Or, as simply stated in today’s terms, infection.

Sparing no detail, Lindsey Fitzharris’ The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine is itself a grisly, though wonderfully written, account of the horrors of Victorian medicine, specifically those of surgery and post-operative infection. The bulk of Fitzharris’ history regards, as its title suggests, one Joseph Lister, who, most graciously, spared us from the brutal, Dickensian-like world she describes. In her words, Victorian medicine was “the age of agony.”

Victorian era British hospitals lacked cleanliness, to say the least. In one account, a patient was found convalescing in damp sheets covered with mushrooms and maggots. Putrid odors permeated the facilities, as well as the doctors and the medical students who worked within. Operating tables were not cleaned from one patient to another, instruments were not sterilized between patients, and employees’ hands, let alone the wounds of the afflicted, were scarcely washed. Surgeons and their assistants performed grimy operations, haphazardly throwing limbs and flesh into buckets or onto sawdust-covered floors. Literal body snatchers disturbed the dead by digging them up and delivering them to hospital dissection rooms, where men carved them up in the interest of medicine. This is but a sampling of pre-antiseptic conditions.

At the time, surgeons were paid less than those whose job it was to rid the hospital beds of lice and, often, those who chose to specialize in the field were stigmatized. Surgery was considered manual labor rather than medical practice. In part, no doubt due to the fact that, in its infancy, surgery was an absolute last resort primarily comprised of the quick lopping off of limbs. Not only was surgery dangerous for the patient, but for doctors and their assistants. Take, for example, a man who once assisted the aforementioned Robert Liston. Quick with his saw, Liston accidentally sliced three fingers off of the assistant when removing the patient’s limb. Both patient and assistant died of post-operative infection.

Enter Joseph Lister. Born into a Quaker family, it’s somewhat ironic that Lister chose to become a physician, as the Quakers were known for their disbelief in medicine. Fortunately, Lister’s family was very supportive of his medical endeavors. Lister and his father had a common bond–the microscope. Lister’s father made a number of improvements to the device and Lister was one of few students in medical school acquainted with it. In fact, his professors and  contemporaries alike thought the microscope either frivolous or superfluous to medical pursuits. Yet, and thankfully for us, Lister persisted.

While Lister’s predecessors and peers were more interested in treating the symptoms of infection, Lister was more curious about discovering its causes. He spent countless hours peering through the lens of his microscope, viewing, sketching, and painting human tissues, fibers, and the like. He acquired specimens from others within his field, as well as harvested from his own body. He was so devoted to his cause, that he and his wife, Agnes, who was the daughter of his mentor, spent their honeymoon collecting frogs for Lister to dissect. Throughout their marriage, she was often in his study or lab with him, taking notes and essentially acting as his assistant.

Eventually, Lister gained an understanding of infection, of how hospital environments impacted the outcome of procedures and the well-being of both patients and staff. Although his theories were initially rejected by the Victorian medical community, over time Lister was able to prove them and he received a number of awards and recognitions throughout his career. Conditions improved, not only in British hospitals, but in hospitals everywhere, as cleanliness became increasingly practiced.

Fitzharris’ narrative of the transformation of Victorian medicine is altogether fascinating, if gruesome and not for the faint of heart nor for the weak stomached. Although she writes in a manner that speaks well to those outside of the world of medicine, I wrote this review after reading this title twice. Trust, it’s a lot to take in and a lot to process.

As always, happy reading.  

Historic Missouri Roadsides by Bill Hart

In his recent title Historic Missouri Roadsides, author Bill Hart takes readers on a journey of Missouri’s two-lane roads and highways. This wonderfully illustrated book is for both the figurative and literal traveler. In addition to beautiful photography, Hart offers facts about each destination, directions, and information about where to eat, stay, visit, and what to do, as well as a few travel tips. Perhaps unique to Hart’s adventure advice is that he does not manage your time, but encourages you “to take your time at every juncture of your trip” so that you may explore and enjoy Missouri’s heritage.  What’s more, all of his listings for food & drink, accommodations, and such are venues that are truly local to the area in which they are found.

The book proper is divided into six tours: Missouri Highway 79 / The River Road; El Camino Real; Route 100 / Gottfried Duden & the Lewis and Clark Trail; Osage Hills and Prairies; Mostly Route 24; and The Platte Purchase. Throughout each tour, Hart expertly covers historic, small-town Missouri. He engages with intriguing histories of towns traveled and captivates with photographic landscapes and streetscapes, ranging from beautiful buildings and homes in current use to structures that have either fallen into serious disrepair or stand vacant.

Although Joplin is not featured in this title, the Osage Hills and Prairies tour winds through Jasper County, beginning in Avilla and passing through Carthage and Jasper before moving on to nearby towns. Carthage’s Boots Motel, a decorative parapet made of “Carthage marble” that crowns a downtown building, and “A Victorian lady of a building” on Maple Street are among the sites photographed in Jasper County. Hart touches on the rich history of Carthage, including the infamous Belle Starr, the lawful Annie Baxter, the Civil War, and more.

Not only is Hart’s Historic Missouri Roadsides an entertainingly educational read for those interested in history and preservation, but its a fantastically fun resource for those who are interested in taking the drive through Missouri’s roadside heritage. To learn more about Missouri author Bill Hart or his recent publication, then visit his website or visit him during his book signing in the Post Art Library, 300 S Main St, Joplin, MO, on Saturday, September 19, 2015, from 4pm-6pm.

Carthage 13 Boots Edited

The photograph above shows the Boots Motel in Carthage, Missouri. It’s but one of numerous buildings depicted in Historic Missouri Roadsides. (Photograph courtesy of the author, Bill Hart.)

About the Author:
Bill Hart grew up in Perry County in southeast Missouri. His interest in small town and roadside Missouri was fostered by his work for the past several years with the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation (Missouri Preservation), where he currently serves as executive director. He holds a degree in Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University and did his graduate coursework in Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Bill is particularly interested in vanishing Missouri building types, including roadside and countryside. He was one of the founders of the Missouri Barn Alliance and Rural Network (Mo BARN), advocating for documentation and preservation of Missouri’s historic farmsteads.

Greetings! from Joplin, Missouri

Recall days bygone when travelers documented their journeys and friends shared status updates via postcard. Imagine, if you will, that hundreds–perhaps thousands–of such cards were published to promote Joplin and its development. Imagine no more: the Joplin Public Library’s digitized collection features a touch over 500 such historical postcards. An array of subjects range from buildings to churches to eateries to lodging to mining to parks to recreation to schools and so on. Along with the postcards are their descriptions. Leslie Simpson, Director of the Post Memorial Art Reference Library, wrote the details that accompany each postcard included in the digitized collection. I recently met with Leslie to ask a few questions…

Jill’s questions/comments are in bold,
whereas Leslie’s are not.

How did you become involved in this project?
Carolyn Trout, who was the director of the Joplin Public Library at the time, wanted to do a digitization project. The postcard collection is a part of that project. It was a collaboration among the public library and the Post Library.

Who provided the postcards? Did you put out a call for postcards or seek collections that you knew existed?
We put out a newspaper notice inviting people to share their postcards. Brad Belk [of the Joplin Museum Complex] allowed us to go through the museum’s collection. Some were bought on Ebay. We also sought out people who had collections and asked to borrow them.

How many postcards did you all have to choose from?
We started with 1,000 and narrowed it down to a little over 500.

Your primary role was to write the postcards’ descriptions. How long did you conduct research and how so?
At least a year. I worked hard to specify the date of each image. Each postcard has a publisher’s code. I researched these codes to determine when they were in use and to date the cards. And I was able to date cards by the cost of postage at the time or by each card’s style and type.

When you were going through the postcards, which were the most interesting?
My favorites were the postcards with inscriptions, anything personal. One of the mining ones that I can remember had an arrow drawn to the mine with “This is how we make our money” written nearby.

What do you think it says about Joplin that such a plethora of postcards documents its development?
Well, Joplin WAS the most happening place in Missouri at the turn of the century! There was so much excitement about the fortunes to be made, not just in mining but in all the services to go along with that–dynamite companies, machinery works, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc. People came from all over the US to get in on the action. Postcards were also marketing tools–Joplin civic leaders could show off what Joplin had to offer. Theaters, churches, libraries, public buildings, etc.

Why do you think it’s important to preserve this collection for posterity?
There’s so much history there that’s not really in the history books. The parks, for instance. They were resort areas and amusement parks unlike anything we’ve ever seen. We get a glimpse into how people lived. The downtown scenes are fascinating snapshots into everyday life. We get to travel back in time!

Indeed we do: http://www.joplinpubliclibrary.org/digitized/postcards.php

joplin_card