JOPLIN, Mo. – The Olivia Building has been located at 320 South Moffet in Joplin since February 1906.
“Anton Bendelari was the person who had this vision that there had to be these places to stay close to the mall and so a fancy building came to his mind so he spent $ 150,000 which was a huge amount. sum of money to build this magnificent structure, and he hired Austin Allen, a local architect from Joplin to design it, ”said Brad Belk, who is with the Joplin Historic Society and is the current Missouri community historian Southern State University.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
“These are the elite buildings in the United States and the designations are revered and very special and we also have neighborhoods and in fact it is in the great community of Murphysburg, the district of Murphysburg which is also a historic district in this regard, ”Belk added.
Austin Allen’s original photographs of the Olivia Building arrived in Belk’s hands just a few weeks ago.
“We have 13 photographs of the interior of the Olivia and a few photos of the exterior and they are amazing because to my knowledge I have never encountered anything to see what the building looked like in its early days. opening.”
But just as a new take on the buildings’ history emerges, community members saw part of the beloved structure burn down on Monday night.
“Monday night we were sent to 320 South Moffet for a rooftop fire. Our teams arrived knowing that the building was the Olivia Apartments. We found a five story, we knew it was vacant apartments, with a fire on the fifth floor and through the roof, ”Joplin Fire Chief Jim Ferguson said.
Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the fifth floor and extinguish the flames at one in the morning.
Electricity was connected to the building at the time of the fire, but the cause is unknown at this time as crews were unable to reach where it could have started due to extensive damage.
The fire is still under investigation. No injuries were reported, but the building also suffered water damage at lower levels.
A car fire on the same day has been ruled out as being linked to the Olivia fire.
Police said there were incidents of trespassing in the building.
“It’s just devastating, it’s heartbreaking, we’ve been working very actively on this property specifically with our Endangered Properties program this year and we thought we had made great strides and things were moving forward on that.” said Downtown Joplin Alliance, Executive Director, Lori Haun.
The Downtown Joplin Alliance worked with developers to potentially restore the building to senior housing, but the future of that plan is now unknown.
“They say they are not necessarily out, they are not sure at this point, it stands to reason that an assessment will have to be made,” Haun added.
The Olivia was also on Missouri’s 2020 Places of Danger list, something truer than ever.
“That’s exactly what the danger places are, this building is in danger,” Haun said.
“Historical images are vital now, especially when you think about what we could possibly lose,” Belk added.