On June 30, 1911, Joplin Union Depot opened to the public. This reinforced concrete structure was designed by Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss and helped define Curtiss’ reputation as a pioneer in fireproof construction. Unlike other train depots at the time, which generally depict classical stylistic elements, Curtiss’ design incorporated geometric embellishments to create a Prairie-modern style building. The depot serviced the Kansas City Southern, Missouri-Kansas-Texas and Santa Fe Railroads, and allowed the already growing Joplin area to flourish. On November 3, 1969, the last train departed the depot and for over fifty years the building has remained vacant. Since 1972, groups have proposed alternate uses for the structure, including a Joplin Museum Complex, but nothing ever came to fruition. The building is currently threatened by a number of factors including neglect and deterioration as well as vandalism. The once white painted walls are covered with graffiti. Current players in advocacy for the future of the depot include the City of Joplin, the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission, Downtown Joplin Alliance, Post Art Library, Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc., and other regional preservation groups and residents. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, State Historic Preservation Office has owned the building since 1998 with hopes of finding a buyer who will rehabilitate the structure. Supporters hope that listing the Joplin Union Depot as a Place in Peril will raise awareness of the property’s availability and help find a developer to restore this important piece of Joplin’s history.
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the Joplin Union Depot, please contact:
R. Zane Price
Real Estate Manager, Division of State Parks
Missouri Department of Natural Resources