Madison Street (out of the picture to the right) was lightly traveled for decades after the George W. Moore residence was built. More historic photos are in this week’s Old News article.

Bracing for the demise of a Webb City landmark

53-year owner Connie Sweet says she’s tried every way she can think of to find someone to buy it for restoration

Bob Foos

George Washington Moore must have thought he was building a home in the country in 1908 when he had his large three-story house, with columns in the front, built.

The 1915 Sanborn Map of Webb City shows Madison Street hadn’t even been extended south of the core of the West End district.

As mayor, Moore certainly had a vision of what Webb City would become but may not have foreseen the current extent of commercial development on South Madison Street and Range Line Road, as it becomes in Joplin. The thoroughfare is also known as Business Interstate 49.

Connie Sweet, who has probably lived in the house longer than anyone else, says she is heartbroken that it will be demolished instead of restored. Someone is supposed to remove the woodwork and other materials before the demolition, which is expected to take place this summer.

That iconic house, at 903 S. Madison St., is set to be demolished before the end of summer, as the property becomes the site of a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

Connie Sweet, the owner of the house for the past 52-plus years, says she is heartbroken that no one has stepped up to purchase and restore the house.

Larry Sweet, her husband, “bought it for my 25th birthday present.” That was on Oct. 23, 1970. They raised their three children, Brent, Lanna and Tiffani, in the house after moving here from Baxter Springs, Kan., to buy and operate the Home and Rug Furniture store, which used to be on Main Street.

Another longtime owner of the house was Dr. Robert Ferguson.

The Sweets built an addition with kitchen onto the back and put in a swimming pool in 1976.

George Moore’s carport on the south side had already been turned into a greenhouse. The garage used to be the chauffeur’s quarters, and there was a separate building on the south side for servants quarters.

Since Larry’s death 11 years ago, she says she hasn’t had the income to restore the house.

Now that it’s about to be torn down, she says, “It’s breaking my heart, and the kids.’

“I wish I could have won the lottery and fixed it up” and perhaps donated it to the city to use as a museum.

“She’s (the house) a landmark of Webb City, and I know that.”

“I’ve called funeral homes, lawyers and white-linen restaurants trying to get them to buy and restore it – to save her.”

 

The door to the second-floor balcony.

And the view of Madison Street from the balcony.

‘So why didn’t you buy it?’

Since the house’s pending demise has been known, Connie says there have been “hater remarks” on Facebook criticizing her for selling out.

To the haters, she says, “It’s been for sale for 11 years. So why didn’t you buy it?”

She says her son, Brent, said, “‘All the haters don’t have a clue what we’re going through” emotionally in saying goodbye to the house.

As she gradually moves her remaining items to northwest Arkansas, Connie says the 5,800-square-foot-home is too large for one person.

One thing it was good for was teenage parties. “A lot of kids have spent time in this house,” she says. “One of Lanna’s friends said, ‘We need one more party there.’”

Madison Street is now a commercial four-lane thoroughfare with so much traffic that Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen plans to be on this corner, and a Whataburger will be across the street.

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