#ENDURING
Historic Preservation

October 2, 2019

Written by Emily Baumann | Photography by Emily Baumann

CHARACTER TRAIT: Enduring

DEFINITION: Continuing or long-lasting.

There is no argument that St. Joseph, Missouri, is home to beautiful and uncommon architecture. Examples of the unique history of our city are seen in historic neighborhoods like Hall Street to our bustling downtown. Beginning with examples of the fur trading days of Joseph Robidoux and the founding of our city, to Civil War era homes, and beyond…our city has it all.

Many times we ask ourselves “what can I do to help preserve our community’s history?” when it comes to protecting the character of our community for generations to come. Luckily there are many organizations, businesses (like our friend John Rodgers owner of Phoenix Preservation), and volunteers who work hard every day on projects of this magnitude. Our focus today is on The Missouri Alliance of Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization based in St. Louis, MO. Commonly referred to as Missouri Preservation, they are the only statewide organization of their type dedicated to promoting, supporting, and coordinating historic preservation activities throughout the State. With their mission to educate, advocate, and assist they work tirelessly along with their members and supporters to save and restore the heritage of our state through preservation and restoration.

Riley Price, Administrator at Missouri Preservation, shared that it is easier than ever to connect with others who are passionate about historic preservation via social media.

“My first suggestion for getting started in preservation is to go the modern route — social media. I grew up in a more rural area south of St. Louis, and although I frequently had chances to visit historic sites in the city and nearby, my local community lacked buildings to preserve. Social media, especially Facebook, helped me find other organizations and history-minded individuals near me but also across the state and country. I think being able to share stories of preservation on social media not only encourages others to do the same, but also helps spread ideas in terms of how to advocate and fundraise. Also I suggest reaching out to your local historical society, if there is one, or finding one at the county level. They’re the sort of ‘catch all’ for us history nerds, with a broad variety of interests from preservation to genealogy.”

According to Price, your viewpoint on historic preservation is all in the way you look at it, “Every time I visit the city, I drive through the historic neighborhoods — even those that are blighted — and just imagine what potential each of the buildings have.” Price also stated that the historic nature of St. Joseph is very uncommon, “To have such a large concentration of historic homes in such a compact area, unbroken by new development, is phenomenal.” Together with Missouri Preservation we can work to ensure that these beautiful examples of architecture endure.

Annually, as part of its mission to educate, Missouri Preservation hosts a conference and in the summer of 2019 St. Joseph was proud to host this event. The location of the conference rotates each year to various historical locations around the state, with a focus on education, workshops, and exploring the host city.

Lauren Manning, Historic Preservation and Planning Consultant at the City of St. Joseph, 2019 Missouri Preservation Conference Chair, and the Secretary on the Board of Directors of Missouri Preservation said that the conference brought in about 255 people to our community with an estimated $130,000 boost to the economy.

“It also brought awareness to the amazing things we have to offer in St. Joseph and allowed us a chance to highlight all the people who have made that all happen. St. Joseph is now on the radar for a lot of architects and developers from all over the state and our surrounding areas.” said Manning.

The conference highlighted familiar places like the Henry Krug Jr. mansion, the parkway, Moila, the Missouri Theater, the Wyeth Tootle Mansion, historic neighborhoods including Museum Hill and Harris Kemper, our trail, downtown shops & churches, and the local bed and breakfasts. The conference goers also enjoyed favorites like River Bluff Brewing, Windy Wine Company, Grindstone Creek, Claudia’s and Luna’s. Manic Snail, a local stationary and gift store, hosted a slide show presentation on Urban Renewal in St. Joseph featuring many never before seen photos of downtown St. Joseph.

Mary Supple, Director of Sales at St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau shared that “St. Joseph was the perfect location for the 2019 Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation Conference. Our city is one of America’s best-kept secrets for historic architecture. They were last here in 2006 and we were so excited they decided to return. Attendees who came really appreciated the historic downtown area, where most of their activities were held.” But, she added that they can’t wait for the conference to return to our community because there is still so much more of St. Joseph’s rich history to share.

Along with the workshops (including a hands on historic window workshop with Kelsie Gray, a restoration professional), tours, networking opportunities, and educational keynotes the Missouri Preservation conference takes time to honor those who are making strides in preservation. Cole Woodbury, Owner of Felix Street Postcards, was one of those honored with a 2019 Legacy Award at the conference this year for his work in historic preservation. Cole suggest that it is never to early or late to get involved. Personally he became interested in preservation at about age five. “My first home was the 1885 Ernest Chase house at 1102 Felix Street. It had been empty for years and every hot water radiator was broken due to freezing. I lived in the house for six months before I even had a bathroom. Living in that house opened my eyes to renovation and preservation at a very young age.”

For over 40 years The Missouri Alliance of Historic Preservation has worked to instill a preservation ethic in our state and continues to spark the love for restoration in every generation. From their administrative work through helping secure tax credits to their outreach and education via conferences and workshops they continue to help improve our state one story (literally and figuratively) at a time. It is organizations like Missouri Preservation that help grow and preserve the Uncommon Character in cities across Missouri, like St. Joseph.

If you would like to join, volunteer, or donate to Missouri Preservation click the link below to learn more about the work that they do each year.

#ESTABLISHED

When visitors and locals visit historic Hall Street in St. Joseph, they usually look up. A lot. And then they stop and stare. They take pictures and walk very slowly. They usually return, because this neighborhood known as “Millionaire’s Row” tells the story of St. Joseph’s turn-of-the century wealth and opulence like nothing else.

#NATURAL

As one of St. Joseph’s most unique, hands-on educational experiences, this award-winning museum and attraction has everything

#GUMPTIOUS

One of St. Joseph public schools earliest and most successful students, Huston Wyeth, built in 1918-1922 what was considered a very large country estate located northeast of central downtown. It was called Wyethwood.

#POWERFUL

More than a decade of service later, the program continues to grow. Most of the kids who live in this St. Joseph neighborhood receive free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch during the school year, but have limited food resources in the summer. 

#FOUNDING

Born in 1783 to a St. Louis family of merchants and fur traders, Joseph Robidoux would become the founder of St. Joseph, MO.