City Hall building celebrates 100th year

Her scalloped brow has overlooked the highs and lows of downtown Joplin for decades.

Born in a boom, she helped sustain — some say drive — a thriving retail district. In midlife though, like so many tragic heiresses whose beauty and fortune fade, downtown hit a dry spell and her glorious gown grew tattered.

For a time, the lady even got caught up in a bit of a scandal.

She came back, though. And now the grand dame of downtown — the Newman Building — is about to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Built to sell the millinery, fashions and household goods that the early Tri-State Mining District needed, the Chicago-styled building at 602 S. Main St. today serves as Joplin’s City Hall.

Ron Richard, a former mayor who is credited with suggesting that the city buy the building, uses one word to describe the Newman Building today.

“Perfect,” he said. “Perfect.

“It couldn’t have been any better. A brand new, old building. You don’t have to say ’City Hall.’ Everybody knows it’s as the Newman Building. It’s got tradition. It’s got character. It’s got everything you want in a City Hall and it’s been kind of an anchor for downtown.”

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