We all remember the horrible photos of the aftermath of the tornado in Joplin in May, 2011. The day after the tornado we were scheduled to stay in Joplin for a few days. My husband’s family lives in the Joplin area so we make regular trips up to visit.
When we arrived at the hotel, half the cars were severely damaged from debris. Several of the vehicles in the lot were for emergency personnel. The people going into the hotel were carrying their belongings. Some in plastic tubs. Some in just their hands.
When we saw the situation, we gave up our room so that a local person could have shelter.
Mike and I recently spent time in Joplin. The town has rebuilt, and it looks fabulous. The population of Joplin is about 52,000. The town is a perfect size so that it offers everything a person needs. It feels like a small town.
The downtown is a large, lovely old downtown that has been, for the most part, well preserved. There are a few modern, out of place buildings, but some are just facades over the original building front. They have hope!
Downtown boasts restaurants, bars, clothing stores, bike shop, coffee shops, event rooms, hair salons, city buildings, and apartments. Low income, upscale and senior housing facilities are all within walking distance of everything residents need.
The downtown buildings exude character and details. Copper railings and pediments, stone pillars, iron flowers, bay windows, balconies, intricate brick patterns and granite blocks add charm and interest to this urban area. Roof tops are converted to outdoor living spaces. Some of the building interiors feature original brick walls, original floors, original signs and markings. The streets are bustling with people.
If you are looking for a fun little getaway, Joplin is a good town to visit. It has VRBOs for rent downtown, as well as hotels not far from the area.
The town offers a little bit of something for everyone.
From antique stores and flea markets to museums and parks. There are historical sites, such as Bonnie and Clyde’s garage apartment hideout. There are modern offerings such as street art. And there are lots of family options like movies, bowling and an escape room.
Take a week or a weekend and visit the friendly folks in Joplin! See for yourself what a community can accomplish after adversity.
A little about the history: Incorporated in 1873, Joplin is a city in the southwest part of Missouri. It was founded around camps developed by lead miners. It became a very prosperous city due to zinc mining. I wonder if what looks like copper trim on some of the downtown buildings is actually zinc.
During WWII the economy drastically slowed due to the value of zinc declining. Then Route 66 increased visitors to the area. Signs still direct travelers to the original road.
The town is named for a Methodist minister, Reverend Harris G. Joplin, who settled in the area in 1839. With the prosperity of the city, many businesses sprang up including saloons, dance halls and brothels. Included in the rich history of Joplin are the hideout of Bonnie and Clyde; the location of the now closed, well-known bar, House of Lords; two Christian colleges; and the site of many buildings listed on Federal and State historical registries.
Like many cities in the U.S. during the 1960s and ‘70s, historical buildings, specifically downtown buildings, were abandoned, razed or fell into disrepair. But unlike some small towns, due to Joplin’s early prosperity and growth, there were so many beautifully ornate buildings built in the late 1800s and early 1900s that there are still numerous examples of that era still being used today.
To follow At Home on Instagram, click here.