I have blogged before on the downtown Main St in Joplin, Missouri and the beautiful old buildings. Such eye candy!
This last week we ventured to the surrounding neighborhoods. The historic homes are drop-dead gorgeous! Each unique 100-year-old home is a jewel to be loved and appreciated. So many of these old beauties are in need of help, but it looks like folks are starting to do what is needed to reclaim and preserve them.
There are not just five or ten of these fabulous homes, there are hundreds. We should have been walking not driving so that I could have captured more of the character of the abodes and gotten more decent shots to share. Between the car moving and the mature trees, it was difficult to get good photos to share.
Joplin was an old zinc mining town with deep pockets so the downtown buildings and homes are over the top ornate and detailed. Even though it appears that several structures have been lost, there are many that still remain.
To be honest, it broke my heart to see the grand old dames with rotting porches, broken windows, and graffiti. I could have cried. They have been part of the fabric of the city. Loss of these homes leaves holes in the history of a town such as Joplin. Buildings like this are irreplaceable. Craftsmen and materials aren’t available to replicate the work that originally went into these structures.
There are homes and buildings of every style: French chateaux, Italianate, Gothic, Prairie, Craftsman, Georgian, etc. Many structures have green verdigris trim, which looks like copper but is actually zinc.
If you are a student of architecture or history, I think you will love a visit to Joplin. Downtown is making a comeback, so you can eat, shop, and sleep downtown and live among the beauty.
Like so many downtowns, you will see well-maintained structures next to abandoned ones. There are security bars, graffiti and boarded up windows on some buildings. One block off Main St, you will see homes and businesses surrounded by concertina wire. Because this downtown, like many across America, was abandoned in favor of suburbs, there is a lot of unused square footage in the downtown area. These buildings serve as cheap storage for junk because the cost to repair and repurpose is too expensive. As the area continues to renew, the tides will change and the buildings will be worth too much to sit idle. It really is amazing to see some of the magnificent old buildings in disrepair, yet they aren’t for sale.
There is a building that I am particularly fond of which was built in 1910 to be the fanciest apartments anywhere. The Robertson Apartment building is now in the midst of law firms. It dominates the street since it is big and beautiful. However, it has been abandoned for a long time. I found an article online by a man who had gone in to look around. He did not go upstairs nor to the basement, the latter of which he said had a terrible odor. It made me think if I could look inside, I think I would be too afraid. I would need the realtor and the entire police department to show me through. But, since it is not for sale, it is just my daydream. I am so worried that on one of my visits to Joplin that I will learn that it has been razed.
I wonder if the owners of the old crumbling buildings have a plan for the buildings.
A common theme you will see around town are butterflies. They represent the people lost in the tornado eight years ago. One downtown building has a small mural of 144 butterflies, representing the 144 people who died in the tornado.
Joplin has a population of about 50,000 people, so it is a good size town with all a person needs. Due to the tornado, there are large parts of town that are brand new.
Joplin has a lot of private investors renovating these structures. There are local and state funds available to help with some of these renovations. And there are local construction companies that specialize in historical renovations. It seems the values are pretty good to buy a building. I think other towns might be able to replicate their success, which seems to be growing with no sign of slowing.
Visiting a beauty like downtown Joplin makes me take a harder look at my beautiful hometown. Since our town was never a really wealthy town, we don’t have the quantity of amazing old buildings like Joplin. In turn, we have to be even more protective of our old, historic properties. How a town like Sulphur Springs, Texas, goes about preserving the beauties is dicey, but it has to be done. Once a building is razed, it is too late!
Maybe we need to develop a list of historic properties that are in jeopardy of being lost. Ones that need a savior to come along and preserve it for the future.
Do you look around your home town and think about what buildings must be preserved? Does your town have tax credits or historic preservation funds?