Home for the Holidays

It’s like HGTV meets the History channel. Home for the Holidays, a tour of historic homes in Joplin, is inspirational and educational – and a tad voyeuristic, allowing our curious eyes to peek inside the walls of these well-crafted, one-of-a kind structures.

 

Held every other year, Home for the Holidays is organized by Historic Murphysburg Preservation, an organization that holds various events throughout the year at historic locations, opening them up to the public so that people can experience the richness of Joplin’s history in an immersive way.

 

This year’s Home for the Holidays tour was held on December 14 and included nine residences plus the tour headquarters, which was housed at Unity of Joplin – another historic structure. Tickets were available online or at Unity of Joplin, and participants received an informational brochure and map.

 

The tour included three different Joplin neighborhoods: Murphysburg, North Heights, and downtown Joplin.

 

The tour ran from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., a reasonable amount of time to walk through the houses, listen to the history of each location, and travel between stops. I started the tour about 2 p.m., and I was pushing it to finish by closing time. There’s just so much to soak in.

The Tour

 

Here’s a breakdown of the 2019 Home for the Holidays Tour:

 

Unity of Joplin, 204 North Jackson Avenue

Serving as the headquarters and ticket location for the tour, this building represents the Spanish Mission architectural style, and was built in 1911 as Calvary Baptist Church.

 

 

The Woman’s Club of Joplin moved into the building in 1930, and Unity of Joplin purchased it in 2012 and continues to occupy it today.

 

 

What struck me most about the interior are the timber ceiling beams and the breathtaking stained-glass windows, which fill the worship area with natural light.

 

Murphysburg

 

The following four homes are located in Murphysburg, the first residential neighborhood established by the founders of Joplin. Many architectural styles are represented in this picturesque, 53-acre neighborhood, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (If you would like to explore this area in depth, here is a walking tour to use as a guide.)

 

 

Henderson House, 518 South Sergeant Avenue

Charles G. Henderson, President of S.C. Henderson Wholesale Grocery Co., built this home in 1917. With its dentil molding on the roofline, and gabled dormers, this home is an example of the Colonial Revival style.

 

 

These decorative windows added an eye-catching element to the main stairwell.

 

 

 

Frye/BaSom House, 318 South Sergeant Avenue

I have to admit that this has always been one of my favorite homes in Joplin. It just seems to exude pride in its alluring beauty.

 

 

Can you believe that it was built for just $5,000 back in 1891? That would be about $141,000 in 2019, and considering the craftsmanship I observed inside, that’s quite a steal, even by today’s standards!

 

 

The architectural style of this house is Second Empire, also known as Modern French, which was popular from 1865 to 1900. The home was built by Charles C. Frye, who moved to Joplin from New York to invest in the mining industry. In 1898, it was purchased by attorney Fred BaSom, who later organized Joplin Telephone Co., the first phone company in the city.

 

While there are many aspects of this home that I love, the coolest feature is the staircase hidden behind this mirror in the main hall.

 

 

Ta-da!

 

 

 

Fischer House, 315 South Sergeant Avenue

Built by Julius Fischer in the 1880s, this is the oldest home in Murphysburg.

 

 

The original structure is a simple farmhouse style, and Tudor elements were added later. These photos show the different exteriors over time.

 

Here’s a notable (yet not-so-grand) fact about Julius Fischer: In 1890, he lost the Jasper County Clerk election to Mrs. Annie Baxter, making her the first female county clerk in the United States – and an important Joplinite. (Interesting coincidence: I’m typing this at the Joplin Public Library right now, and I just looked up to see a bust of Mrs. Annie Baxter in the Post Memorial Library section.)

 

 

Geddes House, 301 South Sergeant Avenue

This ornate beauty is an example of Queen Anne architecture.

 

 

It was built in the late 1890s by James I. Geddes, a newspaper owner and publisher, as well as an attorney, and an investment broker. Geesh! That’s one busy man. I hope he had time to enjoy the intricately detailed woodwork in the many rooms of his grand home.

 

 

I sure did.

 

North Heights

 

The next three homes are located in the North Heights neighborhood, located north of the Murphysburg district. Development in this residential area began after 1891, when this land was sold to the City of Joplin by the Granby Mining Co. (Every year in October, this charming neighborhood holds the popular North Heights Porchfest, a laid-back musical festival, which you can read more about here.)

 

 

Rogers House, 536 North Wall Avenue

Designed by esteemed local architect Austin Allen, this home was built in 1905 by Frederick H. Rogers, who worked in the lumber business, then moved to Joplin to become involved in the mining industry.

 

 

The interior of the home contains spectacular examples of hand carved woodwork throughout, including the stunning staircase,

 

 

and the mahogany ceiling beams and paneling in the dining room.

 

 

 

Beckham-Richardson House, 603 North Pearl Avenue

While the original owner and date of construction of this home are unknown, the current owner has embraced the unique interior elements of this home with a sense of whimsy.

 

 

It was fun exploring the nooks and crannies of this home and discovering surprises.

 

 

 

Cotton House, 602 N. Wall Avenue

Built by John A. Cotton in 1918, this house offers a fine example of a craftsman interior.

 

 

I liked how the current owners’ clean, modern decor paired well with the simple, yet exquisite, woodwork throughout the home.

 

 

Downtown Joplin

 

The next two residences on the tour were apartments located in downtown Joplin.

 

 

R&S Chevrolet Building, 214 East 4th Street

This building, constructed in 1909, is an example of Late-19th/Early-20th-Century Revival architecture.

 

 

It was built by Century Auto Co., which became R&S Motors in 1926 (owned by Bill Robertson and Winston Spurgeon).

 

When you see the apartments inside the building today, it’s hard to imagine that a motor company once operated here. Apartment #1A on the ground level was opened up for the tour, wowing visitors with its chic, urban interior design.

 

 

It truly looked like something from the pages of Architectural Digest.

 

 

 

Empire Block Building, 524 South Main Street

The next residence was a palatial two-story apartment which occupies the second and third levels of the Empire Block Building, located in the Joplin’s Downtown Sunshine Lamp Historic District.

 

 

Designed by architect Thomas R. Bellas, it was built in 1900 by brothers Charles and Oscar DeGraff, operators of Empire Mine.

 

 

The highlight of this apartment was the glass inserted into the floor of the upper-level walkway, allowing the light from above to filter through to the lower level, creating a bright space throughout.

 

 

It’s such a neat design concept, although I admit I felt a bit disoriented walking on a see-through floor.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed getting the opportunity to explore these homes, each of them brimming with history, and I’m already looking forward to the next Home for the Holidays tour.

 

 

Learn more about future events in Joplin’s historical districts on Historic Murphysburg Preservation’s website by clicking here, or on its Facebook page by clicking here.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Murphysburg

There are several distinct districts in Joplin and, like pieces of fabric sewn together to make a quilt, these districts mesh together to form our unique city.

 

Just off of I-44, Joplin’s Range Line Road District whirs with activity as vehicles travel from hotels, gas stations, and a myriad of retailers. Cutting through the center of town, the post-tornado district glistens, as sunlight reflects off of the shiny, new construction that’s modernizing our city.

 

The Downtown District bustles with pedestrians walking to offices, shopping at boutiques, and eating at restaurants. And just a few blocks away, Joplin’s original district stands proud and elegant, its structures having been rooted in the soil for over a century.

 

This is the area where Joplin’s founding fathers built their residences, proclaiming to the world that this small city in southwest Missouri is overflowing with rich natural resources – and worthy of being the place they called home.

 

Tour statue

Fountain at the Austin Allen House, 112 South Sergeant

 

This is the Murphysburg Historic District, and it was named after Patrick Murphy who, in 1871, purchased 41 acres of land near what is now downtown Joplin. In 1873, the Murphysburg area merged with nearby Joplin City to form Joplin.

 

Today, the buildings in the Murphysburg Historic District wear the history of the city on their facades, from Charles Schifferdecker’s dense German “castle” to Albert Winchester’s sunny Queen Anne home. Whether you are a lifelong resident of Joplin (like me), or a first-time visitor, walking through Murphysburg is a gratifying experience, providing insight into the lives of the people who molded the character of this city.

Thanks to Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc., there is an actual walking tour brochure that you can follow to learn more about the architecture of the homes in this district. The tour includes 37 structures and takes about an hour to complete if you walk it, but you can also tour the district by car.

The tour includes structures in the area between Jackson Avenue and Byers Avenue, and between 1st Street and 7th Street (the portion of 7th Street that borders Murphysburg is on historic Route 66, so this walking tour makes for a nice activity for cruisers on the Route).

Put on some comfy walking shoes and come along with me as I share some of my favorite bits of history that I learned in Murphysburg.

 

Tour-sign

 

Note: The numbers next to each building correspond to the numbers on the walking tour brochure. Information about the construction date and architectural style of each building is listed next to its respective address.

 

 

THE TOUR

Tour Olivia

Olivia Apartments

2. Olivia Apartments – 320 South Moffet (c. 1906): Built to house 34 luxury apartments, this building cost $150,000 to construct and was designed by local architect Austin Allen, who named it after his mother Olivia. The fifth floor of the building once housed a grill room where residents could eat. Click here to see historic photos of the building.

 

Tour Snapp

Fletcher Snapp House

5. Fletcher Snapp House – 501 South Sergeant (c. 1905, Colonial Revival): Designed by architect T.R. Bellas, this brick home features a unique rounded bay window on the upper right side, plus a welcoming porch.

 

The home was built for Fletcher Snapp, who was a member of Joplin High School’s first graduating class of 1887. Snapp went on to found Citizen’s National Bank in 1901, and also served as Joplin’s mayor. During the Depression, Snapp lost his money, so he then divided his home into apartments for income. In 1950, he and a handyman were repairing an oil furnace in the basement when it exploded and killed them both.

 

Tour Winchester

Albert Winchester House

6. Albert Winchester House – 507 South Sergeant (c. 1905, Free Classic Queen Anne): This home was built for Dr. Albert Winchester, a graduate of Vanderbilt University who delivered over 2,500 babies in the area.

 

tour kleinkauf

Gustave A. Kleinkauf House

7. Gustave A. Kleinkauf House – 523 South Sergeant (c. 1905, Arts and Crafts): Do you want to experience what it’s like to be a resident of Murphysburg? This bungalow offers you the chance to do just that. You can spend the night in the Creative Cottage, a quaint bed-and-breakfast located on the second floor of this home.

 

Tour Spiva

Mathews/Spiva House

8. Elisha Mathews/George N. Spiva House – 611 S. Sergeant (c. 1902, Colonial Revival): The home was built for Elisha Mathews, the president of the Foust Automatic Concentrating Company. In 1917, George N. Spiva moved into the home. His son, George A. Spiva, became an avid supporter of the arts in Joplin, and today there is an arts center named after him.

 

Tour Schifferdecker

Charles Schifferdecker House

13. Charles Schifferdecker House – 422 South Sergeant (c. 1890, Romanesque): This man’s home was certainly his castle. Built by Charles Schifferdecker to resemble a castle from the Rhine region of Germany, the home features a tower and several terra cotta friezes (featuring hops vines), which were crafted by workers brought to Joplin from Germany.

 

At age 18, Schifferdecker came to Joplin from Germany to open a brewery with his partner Edward Zelleken, who built the house next door (#14). The two men eventually gave up the brewery and entered the more lucrative mining industry, where they were very successful.

Schifferdecker was a generous philanthropist; many Joplin attractions bear his name, including Schifferdecker Park.

 

Tour Zelleken

Edward Zelleken House

14. Edward Zelleken House – 406 South Sergeant (c. 1893, Queen Anne): Built by Schifferdecker’s business partner, Edward Zelleken, this 4,000 square-foot home has several parapets and decorative details.

While Zelleken was successful professionally, he endured much personal tragedy. Three of his children died; his 19-year-old daughter Tillie passed away right before her wedding and was buried in her wedding dress.

The Zelleken home housed the Spiva Art Center from 1958 to 1967, and is currently a private residence.

 

Tour Frye

Charles Frye House

15. Charles Frye House – 318 South Sergeant (c. 1891, Second Empire): This home was built for Charles Frye, who came to Joplin from New York to invest in mining. It cost $5000 to build, and originally had a square tower with a pyramid-like roof on the third floor, which has since been removed.

 

tour geddes

James Geddes House

19. James Geddes House – 301 South Sergeant (c. Late 1890s, Queen Anne): This home was built for attorney and newspaper publisher James Geddes. In 1900, Howard Hughes, Sr., came to Joplin to capitalize on the mining boom. Thirty-one-year-old Hughes tried to elope with Geddes’ 16-year-old daughter Francis, but Geddes intervened and prevented the union.

 

Tour McNeal

Charles McNeal House

 

20. Charles McNeal House – 220 South Moffet (c. 1908, Prairie Box/American Foursquare): An avid horseman, Charles McNeal was involved in the mining industry. He owned a stone riding stable at 1st and Adams Streets which is currently the home of Joplin Little Theatre.

 

Tour Sharp

Frank Sharp House

21. Frank Sharp House – 212 South Moffet (c. 1909, Spanish Mission): Built by Frank Sharp (McNeal’s business partner) this home was originally constructed in the American Foursquare style like McNeal’s house next door. But when Sharp’s wife Nellie wanted to remodel the house years later, she strived to make it look like Spanish Mission architecture, which was popular at that time, so a pair of towers was added to the third story and the exterior brick was covered with gray stucco.

In the 1960s, the gray stucco was covered with a pink marble material which was outlined to appear like bricks.

 

Tour Allen

Austin Allen House

33. Austin Allen House – 112 South Sergeant (c. 1906, Arts and Crafts): This home was built by Austin Allen, the architect who designed many elegant structures around Joplin, including the Olivia Apartments, St. Peter’s Church, the Newman Building (which now houses City Hall), and several homes in the Murphysburg district.

A departure from the classical architecture that Allen was commissioned to build, Allen’s home was built in the simple Arts and Crafts style, and was a wedding gift for his bride.

 

Tour Picher

Oliver S. Picher House

35. Oliver S. Picher House – 210 South Sergeant (c. 1904, Colonial Revival): Allen also built this elegant home for Oliver S. Picher, the son of the founder of the Picher Lead and Zinc Company (known as Eagle-Picher today). Picher’s luxurious home, (which cost $25,000 to build) included crystal chandeliers, stained glass windows, stunning woodwork (the exterior of the home is made from cypress), and three double-sided fireplaces.

 

Tour Houk

William Houk House

36. William Houk House – 218 South Sergeant (c. 1903, American Foursquare: Classical Elements): This home, which is still surrounded by its original iron gate, was built by William Houk, an attorney, mine operator, and banker. Houk’s wife Edna was a prohibitionist and feminist, and she wrote a book called Women Wealth Winners: How Women Can Earn Money.

 

Thank you for taking a virtual walk with me through Joplin’s Murphysburg Historic District and learning the history of the homes in this neighborhood. I’m sure the city’s founding fathers would be proud that their stories are being told more than a century later.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.