Two historic districts are proposed for the East Town neighborhood, and two properties were identified as potentially eligible for individual listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rachel Nugent, a survey consultant for Rosin Preservation, outlined the report's findings for approximately 30 residents who attended a meeting Tuesday night at Bookhouse Cinema. The neighborhood is so large it is being surveyed in two phases; this first one encompassed an area north of Langston Hughes-Broadway, which also is on the original Route 66 route through Joplin. A second phase is expected to be done next year on the south side.

The survey was sought by the city's Historic Preservation Commission, which looks to East Town to establish the city's second residential historic district as well as other historic assets that help tell Joplin's story.

"We recommended two historic districts, one centered on the original plat and that is commercial and residential buildings," Nugent said. "The second is to the east, and that one is all residential."

The proposed East Joplin Original Town Historic District would be composed of 26 buildings and sites both commercial and residential centered along Broadway, which developed as the commercial core of what is the original location of Joplin as established and platted by pioneer John C. Cox. Nugent said that when the second phase is done, other buildings south of Broadway may be added to the list that should be included in that district.

The proposed East Joplin Residential Historic District could include 84 houses that are original enough to contribute to the district's historic status.

Individual sites that the report says should be considered for listing are the original John C. Cox homestead and house at 615 E. Persimmon St. and Landreth/Mineral Park on Murphy Boulevard, the western edge of the neighborhood.

The report also recommends considering a local conservation district that the report states is a way to recognize and protect the historic character of the area. Nugent said that would have to be set up by the city as a zoning measure that is used to encourage property owners to make renovations that would return their structures to a look consistent with the style and era in which they were built.

Nugent said the next step will be to collect written comments from residents and city officials that can be added to the report or can be used to make revisions.

City Planner Tom Walters said that once both phases of the survey are complete, residents will be asked if the city should proceed with applying for the historic designations.

Melodee Colbert-Kean, who grew up in the neighborhood and now operates a restaurant on Broadway, said the survey "is showing that it's another step for redevelopment, long overdue redevelopment. Hopefully when they are finished with all phases of it (the survey), we will see the original Route 66 is a main corridor that needs to be focused on" as a link between Range Line Road and Main Street. "Why have we not focused on it" before? she asked.

Residents spoke during the meeting about the neighborhood being integrated in its earliest decades.

"People of this time period always seem to refer to Joplin East Town as being an all-black community, and that's not correct," Ron Raymond said. "We were a blended community," except for the schools children attended.

He said that the black residents had to walk to Lincoln School near Seventh Street while white children attended Washington School inside the East Town boundaries until he was in high school in the 1950s.

First plat

Joplin was first platted in 1871 in what today is called East Town.

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I am the City Hall reporter but I cover many other stories in our community as well including historic preservation and feature stories about people and places of interest. You can email me at or call me at 417-627-7262.