The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

June 4, 2013

Our View: History can’t be replaced

CARTHAGE, Mo. — More than bricks and mortar were lost Saturday when a building on the south side of Carthage’s square was destroyed by fire.

The community lost a thriving business. The Sassy Spoon restaurant was a unique, independently owned eatery that contributed to Carthage’s economy.

The upper portion of the building had been adapted and was used as a downtown apartment. So a family’s home was also destroyed.

As we know all too well, buildings can be replaced.

Except you can’t restore 144 years of history. The building had stood on the square since 1869. It was originally built in 1861 and operated as a mercantile store offering everything from hoop skirts to harnesses.

It burned to the ground during the Civil War but rose again to become the McCrillis Brothers Hardware, one of the largest hardware stores in Southwest Missouri. In later years it was a dime store, a variety store and a sporting goods store.

These wonderful pieces of history that rise up over Main Street America are irreplaceable. Each time one is lost to natural disaster, fire or a wrecking ball, we lose a little part of ourselves.

The business community of Carthage must now consider how to shore up its beautiful square. We might note that it was done some 20 years ago when fire destroyed a portion of the east side of the square. A new Carthage City Hall now fills that void.

Cleanup will take weeks, rebuilding perhaps years. We would encourage the residents of Carthage to seek advice and help from other towns that have been forced to rebuild in historic districts following fires.

We know there will be ways to complete the square so that future generations will have a building they can call “historic.”

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