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Welcome to Murphysburg Residential Historic District

In 1992, the City of Joplin designated Sergeant Avenue from Second Street to Fourth Street as the “Murphysburg Residential Historic District.” At the request of homeowners in the adjacent neighborhoods, the City of Joplin expanded the historic district in 2004. Today, the historic district encompasses Sergeant Avenue from First Street to Seventh Street and Moffet Avenue from First Street to Fourth Street. Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc., a non-profit corporation, endeavors to preserve the integrity of the district and raise public awareness. You can contact us at
Want to become a member? Murphysburg Membership Application

Help promote preservation efforts with Historic Murphysburg Preservation

Come Join The Celebration!

DickensFest III

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Be it declared that Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc.
will present the third annual DickensFest-a holiday destination in Joplin for all lords, ladies
and their children. 
Mark your calendar for Friday through Sunday, December 7-9, 2012. There will be
nightly entertainment at all of the different venues from 6:00 to 8:30 PM. 
This free event will be centered on Moffet Avenue between Third and Fourth Street in Joplin’s residential historic district.
DickensFest will feature thousands of winter lights, an outdoor Olde English village
with realistic storefronts, costumed Dickens characters, street performers, indoor concerts, 
Father Christmas, and more.
New this year will be will be arts and crafts vendors selling their wares in the
London Market Place inside the First United Methodist Church Family Life Center.
For more info visit our web site
Join us for a Neighborhood Meeting
With Officer Michael Gayman of the Joplin Police Department to discuss
• Home Burglaries
• Identifying suspicious activity
• The growing trend of utility wire/pipe theft
• Learn about IMPACT, the
“Improving Methods Proactively Against Crime Trends” tool

Tuesday - June 19, 2012 - 6:30 p.m.
at the home of Mary Ann and Larry Neff
318 South Sergeant Avenue
known as the Charles Frye House Circa 1891
Built in the Second Empire style

Contacts for Neighborhood Meeting
Mark Williams HMP President 850-4916
Mary Ann Neff HMP Board Member 850-8598
Mary Anne Phillips HMP Secretary 624-3353
Paula Callihan HMP Director 483-3116

National Preservation Month and this year’s theme is “Discover America's Hidden Gems.”

Enjoy viewing decorative glass that adorns local architecture via a self-guided walking tour in Joplin’s historic Murphysburg residential district.  An instructional brochure and map can be obtained by downloading the document from e-mail with a request; or pick one up at the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s office in Joplin City Hall at 602 South Main Street.  The brochure explains which houses have decorative glass, plus the original owner’s name, style of house, date the home was built, and architectural elements.  Many of the houses were built for distinctive residents and their families such as Charles Schifferdecker, William Picher, Oliver S. Picher, George N. Spiva, and Austin Allen.  One example---the Charles Schifferdecker House built in 1890 in the Romanesque style---proudly displays stained glass windows on the front of the house.            
Leslie Simpson, Director of the Post Memorial Reference Library and local historian states that in the late 19th century, decorative glass was used in every facet of American architecture, from public buildings to private homes.  In Joplin, as elsewhere, the finest houses featured colorful leaded-glass designs, brilliant-cut panels, and radiant prismatic bevels.  The glasswork embellished interior and exterior doors and entries, staircase landings, skylights, transoms, and other windows.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Although colored or beveled glass is often referred to as leaded and/or stained glass, there are varieties and different types despite the interchangeable use of terminology.  This highly decorative glass can be colored, painted, enameled, or tinted, and it can be held together by lead, copper, or zinc cames.”
In 2005 local homeowners created Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc., (HMP) a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to promotion and historic preservation of the Murphysburg Residential Historic District -- Joplin’s only recognized residential historic district.  The district was home to Joplin’s wealthiest and most influential citizens during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  HMP has tirelessly supported the history, culture and architectural design of this amazing neighborhood.  The mission is to implement charitable and educational activities that promote and stimulate historic awareness throughout the neighborhood.

Reconnaissance level survey for Joplin Residential District

For more information on architectural surveys click here.
The City of Joplin proposes creating a residential architectural survey for the local historic area known as Murphysburg. This area covers roughly 100 homes and 35 acres. While the local residential district is larger, the proposed survey for NR is defined within the boundary of the100-600 Blocks of S. Sergeant Avenue and S. Moffet Avenue, as well as 124 S. Byers, and 504 S. Byers. This reduction is size is based upon concentration of intact homes and streetscapes.

This is an important area to survey and identify for its depth of participation in the historical patterns of Joplin’s original growth. Murphysburg pre-dates the incorporation of the City of Joplin and retains original structures built and lived in by architects such as Joplin born Austin Allen. Allen is responsible for designing many of the national register landmarks within the City. Homes within this proposed boundary are Queen Anne, Romanesque, or Victorian style and date from the early 1900’s.

This proposed survey is based on a visit from SHPO staff in 2001 in which they stated,” Joplin has a wealth of historic residential architecture worthy of surveying. While visiting Joplin, staff walked parts of the residential area immediately west of the core business district, namely along Sergeant and Moffet Streets roughly between 7th and 1st streets.” Staff went on to state “Future survey efforts should focus on historic residential neighborhoods bordering the Central Business district.”

Joplin’s early black community worshiped in any place they could find homes, store buildings, or wherever. More fortunate ones met in simple wooden church-houses. But a 1902 tornado wiped out two of their churches, leaving them homeless. Sympathetic to their plight, Joplin millionaire Thomas Connor paid for construction of three brick churches in 1903. Of the three buildings, only the African Methodist Episcopal (now the Handy Chapel A.M.E. Church) remains. The church and its people are a testament to the faith, sacrifice, and endurance of the African-American community in Joplin.

Leslie Simpson, director of the Post Memorial Art Reference Library and advocate for Joplin’s historic architecture, has always had a soft spot for the old A.M.E. Church. Prominent Joplin architect August Michaelis designed the simple Gothic-style structure; very few of his structures still exist. She has watched with alarm as the building deteriorated, knowing that the aging congregation did not have the resources to restore it. She mentioned her concerns to members of the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission, who began investigating what might be done to preserve the historic church. Simpson worked with Bob Morton to determine appropriate renovations and paint colors that would preserve the integrity of the structure.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Be it declared that Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc. will present the second annual DickensFest-a holiday destination in Joplin for all lords, ladies and their children. Mark your calendar for Friday through Sunday, December 9-11, 2011. There will be nightly entertainment at all of the different venues from 6:00 to 8:30 PM. This free event will be centered on Moffet Avenue between Third and Fourth Street in Joplin’s residential historic district.

DickensFest will feature candle luminaries and winter lights, an outdoor Olde English village with realistic storefronts, costumed Dickens characters, street performers, indoor concerts, food and craft vendors, art show and sale, live Nativity, a petting zoo, horse drawn carriage rides, Father Christmas, and more.

New this year will be several free performances of a Victorian Christmas Magic-Lantern Show. This is America’s only 1890s visual extravaganza projected on a full-sized screen – the boisterous kind of show that led to the movies! Scrooge, Santa, animated comedy and carols will be dramatized on screen by a live showman and singer/pianist. National Public Radio called it, “An incredible experience…a living national treasure!” The show is for kids and adults ages 6 to 106. Evening and day-time performances will be held in the beautiful, historic sanctuary of First United Methodist Church at 501 West 4th Street. To learn more, visit

Contact HMP through the following options: Board of Directors President, Paula Callihan (417) 483-3116;;; e-mail at; Post Office Box 1332, Joplin, Missouri 64802. Learn more about DickensFest by visiting :