The transformation of the historic Frisco Building in downtown Joplin from low-income senior housing into upscale luxury apartments is about complete.

Some details remain, such as the polishing of marble in the hallways and the purchase of exercise equipment and furniture for the lobby. But for the most part, it’s finished.

For Dr. Michael Joseph, who purchased the building in 2018, the restoration has been a long and winding road that was complicated by the pandemic, formidable roof and interior problems, and supply-chain issues.

“I’m just thankful we took on this project when we did,” he said. “With the cost of everything going up, it would have been cost prohibitive to do it now.”

Leasing recently began on the 57 units in the Frisco Station Lofts. The building is now about 25% leased, with 14 units under contract, Joseph said.

“The Frisco in these last few weeks has really taken shape, especially in the lobby,” Joseph said. “We have installed lanterns and carpeting, and the woodwork has been stained. We are going to have a super game room in the lobby.”

If you want to see the transformation that has taken place, visit frisco The website has photos, details about floor plans, rates and fees. If you would like a personal tour, call 417-782-1550. The leasing office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The apartments, particularly those on the upper floors, provide views of downtown Joplin.

The Frisco, the city’s first multistory office building at 601 S. Main St., was constructed in 1913 by the Frisco Railroad, which used the first two floors as a station for its passenger service. When train service ended in 1960, the building was used for professional offices.

Eventually, the building was vacated as it aged without renovation or repairs. In the late 1990s, the building’s stability was questioned, but a report commissioned by the city of Joplin’s Building Board of Appeals in 1993 showed the exterior concrete to be in good condition, saving it from condemnation.

As city officials and others sought a way to save the historic building, they worked with the Economic Security Corporation to redevelop the building into senior housing in 2002. That renovation was hailed as a cornerstone for subsequent downtown redevelopment.

It’s a trip

Every once in a while, something happens on this beat that comes right out of left field. I was told by a friend, who is a couple of years older than me and who knew that I was very familiar with the 1970s, that I had to check out The Living Room, a new bar that opened a few weeks ago at 1802 S. Main St.

Talk about an unbelievable trip back in time. It wasn’t a bad trip, mind you, but you know what they say about the ’70s: “If you remember the ’70s, you weren’t there.”

When Jay Brown, the owner of the bar, told me that joke, I cracked up. In fact, my short visit to the bar was the most fun I have had in a bar in a long, long time. If you experienced the 1970s, this place will put a smile on your face. If you didn’t experience the 1970s, here’s your chance.

Brown and his wife, Julie, recently moved to Joplin from Glendale, California. They moved here because they found a house online that they fell in love with. They also wanted to be closer to their daughter who is going to school in Oklahoma.

Once they got here, Brown decided to open a bar, his first. Over the years, he had collected stuff from the 1970s. Why not open a bar with a ’70s theme?

“I had a lot of it and the rest I just found at thrift stores,” he said. “People are seeming to have a lot of fun with it, and that’s what we want.”

Kayla Lemmons and Kristen LaMarr, both of Joplin, who were born several decades after the ’70s, told me that they came to the bar for that reason — to have some fun. They said they loved the look of the place and the vibe that comes when you hear the classic pop music of that time — soul, funk, rock and disco.

“You can sit and talk with your friends, and feel comfortable and safe,” said Lemmons, noting that customers of the former Flicker Bar and Arcade in downtown Joplin are now gravitating to The Living Room because of its hip feel.

I shared with them some stories from the ’70s. Of course, I didn’t talk about the soaring inflation and social upheaval that occurred back then. Nothing new there.

When Lemmons, a graphic artist, told me that today’s designs are being influenced by the ’70s, I had to hold my tongue. What I remember about the ’70s was that there was way too much plaid in fashion and home decor, way too much hair and way too much double-knit polyester. I once owned not one but two plaid polyester suits. I kid you not.

You will see furniture in The Living Room with plaid upholstery. There’s also a still-functioning General Electric refrigerator from that time in one of the most popular colors from that time — harvest gold. Its biggest competitor on the color palette then was avocado green. These earth tones came on strong with the advent of the first Earth Day in 1970.

In the ’70s, you could dress like a hippie during the day and then put on your fancy party clothes for a night at the disco. There’s a poster of Farrah Fawcett in the men’s room and there’s a disco ball in the women’s room. You can pass the time looking at local yearbooks from the 1970s. If you’re hungry, Ding Dongs and Twinkies are on the menu.

Hours are from 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Contact Wally Kennedy at

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