By Wally Kennedy
Most people probably know it as the Bagcraft building.
But its history goes back to the early days of Joplin, when fortunes were being made and lost in the Tri-State Mining District.
The land for the building was purchased in 1913 by William F. Spurgin, president and manager of Inter-State Grocery Association, or IGA. Spurgin’s company, founded in 1900 and originally located at 924 Virginia Ave., was growing and needed additional space to expand its food distribution.
That space, a 122,000-square-foot, multistory warehouse, opened Feb. 19, 1915, near 10th and Main streets. More than 5,000 people attended the grand opening. It was completed at a cost of $225,000. Joplin contractors used 600,000 pounds of steel rods and 64 concrete structural columns to shore up the structure.
On the fifth floor, coffee was roasted in two large Monitor gas roasters. About 15,000 pounds of coffee were prepared daily.
The building was occupied by IGA until 1968, when a new warehouse was constructed in the Joplin Southern Industrial Park. The president of the company at that time said the old warehouse on Main Street slowed down the movement of merchandise because of its multiple floors. The move was preceded by the acquisition of IGA four years earlier by Fleming Co., of Topeka, Kan.
The Midwest Division of Bagcraft Corporation of America occupied a portion of the building in January 1971. The space was leased from Joplin Building Materials Co. Bagcraft operated in the building until June 1994, when it moved its operation to Baxter Springs, Kan.