The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 5, 2012

Historic Neosho house destined for demolition

By Roger McKinney

NEOSHO, Mo. — A house the city bought in 1998 with an eye toward making it an attraction is likely headed toward demolition.

What is commonly referred to as the Combs house, in Morse Park, was built in 1890, according to City Manager Troy Royer. Its first owner was Herman Knotts. He said the architecture is influenced by the Queen Anne style.

Neosho fire Chief Mike Eads on Tuesday told the City Council that a fire over the weekend caused further damage to the house that has been the frequent target of vandalism and theft.

“It’s becoming a real safety hazard,” Eads said.

Royer said after the city bought the house, city finances became tight and other priorities became more pressing. He said there was no money available to repair or refurbish the house, or to secure it.

“The financing just wasn’t there,” Royer said.

Royer said it’s in a dark area of the park, and became attractive to thieves and vandals.

“It’s really sad,” Royer said. “I had a lot of visions for it. I envisioned making it a visitor center.”

He said Hickory Creek wraps around the back of the house. He said it would have been ideal for trout fishing there.

Royer said over the years, the house has been robbed of nearly everything that had historical or monetary value.

Councilman David Ruth said at Tuesday’s council meeting that he thinks the house is too far damaged to be repaired.

When the question came up on Tuesday if the fire department could set the house on fire and use it for training, Royer said that also was complicated because the city would have to ensure that all asbestos had been removed.

“Accidents happen,” joked Councilman Steve Hart.

Demolition plan

Neosho City Manager Troy Royer said he will develop a plan for demolishing the house to present to the City Council at a future meeting.