From staff reports
Q: What is Preservation Month?
A: Preservation Month is a celebration that promotes historic places, (local) history and heritage tourism while demonstrating the benefits of preservation. It began in May 1973 as a weeklong celebration, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation extended it to the entire month in 2005.
Q: Why is historic preservation important?
A: Historic preservation is important for many reasons. I bet if you ask 10 different preservationists, then you’ll get 10 different answers.
For me, one of the most important aspects is that reusing existing buildings rather than tearing them down or building new ones conserves resources and reduces waste — it’s practical. Another is that through historic preservation, we learn a lot about our culture, both good and bad, which helps us to envision and create the type of world we’d like to live in.
Also, old buildings uniquely tell the story of who we are. To quote my predecessor: “One of the best ways to learn about the history of a community is to study its buildings.”
Q: How has Joplin embraced historic preservation?
A: Preservation efforts began in Joplin in the early 1970s, perhaps earlier. In 1986, the city of Joplin formed the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission, and now Joplin is home to at least four privately funded not-for-profits with historic preservation built into their missions and daily activities. So I’d say that historic preservation has come a long way in Joplin and is increasingly well-received.
Specific examples of how Joplin embraces preservation include forming local and national historic districts, making local landmark and national register nominations, conducting surveys of our historic resources, developing a citywide preservation plan and coordinating preservation-related events and exhibits. Other things, too, such as coloring books featuring historic architecture, T-shirts featuring old buildings and the portrayal of our historic areas in artists’ work also illustrate that Joplin embraces historic preservation.
Q: What are some properties in Joplin that have either been preserved or are targeted for future preservation efforts?
A: One that stands out to me is the Newman Building. That it was rehabilitated to serve as our City Hall says a lot about the role historic preservation plays in our community. Others include the Inter-State Grocer Building, Elks Lodge and Fox Theater.
Several historic preservation projects are underway right now, such as the restoration of the Schifferdecker and Zelleken houses, the Olivia Apartments, the downtown YMCA and the Willard, to name a few — not to mention the growing number of private home owners working to maintain and preserve all sorts and sizes of old houses.
Some properties targeted for future preservation include Memorial Hall, the Carnegie Library and the Louis Curtiss Building (aka Union Depot). But at some point, everything, like our aging midcentury neighborhoods, becomes a target for preservation.
Q: What is scheduled on Monday to celebrate Preservation Month?
A: On Monday, Mayor Ryan Stanley will make a proclamation for Historic Preservation Month in Joplin at the beginning of the City Council meeting, which will be followed by a brief update to the council about our preservation commission’s activities. The commission invites local preservationists and friends of preservation to attend and stand when the proclamation is made.
Though there’s always much more work to be done, our community has a lot to celebrate. On Monday, we’ll take a moment to do just that.