Morning: The day starts in Downtown Joplin with a visit to historic City Hall, right in the heart of Joplin’s Route 66. Hear about Joplin’s history and view the murals located in this renovated department store, including the last signed Thomas Hart Benton mural Joplin at the Turn of the Century 1896 – 1906. Walk a block down Joplin’s Main Street for a photo op at the Route 66 Mural Park.
The tour continues with visits to historic Joplin places of worship that represent unique styles in architecture. Options include:
St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, built in 1907
United Hebrew Congregation, built in 1916
Joplin First United Methodist Church, built in 1906
Handy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1903
St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, built in 1908
Central Christian Center, housed in the former Fox Theater, built in 1930
Learn about the churches’ history and architecture, and how they played a role in the rough and tumble mining town of Joplin in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Lunch: Groups can enjoy lunch in Downtown Joplin, right on Route 66, with its unique restaurants and shopping. Or head to the Joplin History & Mineral Museum and cater in lunch, while a local historian shares Joplin’s colorful history. Take time to enjoy the exhibits, including artifacts from Bonnie and Clyde’s visit to Joplin, and a recreation of a mining shaft.
Afternoon: You can’t visit Joplin without stopping for a treat at Candy House Gourmet. Your group will receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory, which uses original family recipes handed down over 75 years.
A step-on guide joins your group for a driving tour of Joplin’s Route 66, Historic Murphysburg neighborhood, and sites of the devastating 2011 tornado that destroyed one-third of Joplin. Stops include the cross at the former site of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, which was the only piece of the church left standing after the tornado, and Cunningham Park, with its memorial to those lost and tribute to the 182,000 volunteers who helped rebuild Joplin. Butterfly gardens, water features, and panels depicting the timeline of the tornado make this park a place of reflection and hope.
Dinner: Dine under the historic neon of Wilder’s Steakhouse on Route 66 in Downtown Joplin. Wilder’s has been an art deco icon on the Route since 1929 and serves elegant meals in this venue built in 1908.
Local Legend: Joplin’s “Butterfly People”
Butterflies are depicted throughout Joplin in the form of murals and metal sculptures. The butterfly is a symbol not only of Joplin’s rebirth after the 2011 tornado, but also of divine intervention during the storm. Many survivors of the tornado zone, especially children, told stories of “butterfly people” - beings who resembled everyday humans but who had large colorful wings that shielded them during the tornado, or pulled them from tornado debris.