This is the former YMCA building on West Daugherty Street.

This building still stands at 214 and 216 N. Main St.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Don’t stop investigating history

Jeanne Newby

While doing some research recently, I was surprised at some of the little bits of information I found. I felt I should share my discoveries with you.

Most of us are aware of the old YMCA building that was adjacent to Bruner Pharmacy on the west. What a unique building it was. It was built in 1901 on a lot donated by E.T. Webb; 107 – 109 West Daugherty. The first floor of the building held retail stores that brought an income for the YMCA organization. The funds were for the upkeep of the building and to keep the organization itself in operation. In the middle of the retail shops was a door to enter the YMCA. It led upstairs to an open foyer with rooms on each side and straight ahead to the gymnasium. It was perfect for the many opportunities that the Y offered to young men. The unique part of the building was in the basement. There was a swimming pool that was enjoyed by the boys, and when not in use the floor was rolled over the top of the pool. How ultra-modern was that?

The new information I found on the YMCA was the location of the organization when it was first organized in 1900, before they built the YMCA building. The Aylor Building at 210 N. Allen (Main) St., home of the Odd Fellows Lodge was built in 1900. This building was the temporary home of the YMCA, on the second floor for a year or two while the new YMCA building was being built.

Another bit of information uncovered that was very interesting concerned the library. Many years ago, whenever I was doing research on the library, I had read that the Civic Improvement Association, a group of Webb City ladies, had a dream of a library in Webb City so they began writing to the Carnegie Corporation to secure a promise of $25,000 to build the library. That information led me to believe that we did not have a library before this organization started their campaign. But I discovered we did have an earlier library, in a one-story wood frame building at 210 ½ S. Allen, also known as 212 S. Allen (Main) St. in 1900. I don’t know if they stayed at that address until the new library was built in 1912, but it was listed in 1900.

I have often written that the very first skating rink in Webb City was located at 207 N. Allen (Main) St. in 1917. Now I have discovered that there was a skating rink at 109 E. Daugherty St. in 1895. There were other skating rinks in the area, such as those at Lakeside, Joplin and Carthage. But these two skating rinks were directly in Webb City. Webb City is fortunate enough to still have a skating rink, Skateland, located in the old Streetcar Association Power House at Broadway and Madison Street. The skating rink named the Green Top Skating Rink in Joplin on North Main at Stone’s Corner was a popular place, at which many developed their skating skills.

Now on to more information uncovered. We have often talked about the fact that the first building actually built as a post office was the Wagner Building, on the northwest corner of Broadway and Webb streets, which was built in 1905. Actually, the first post office, in 1876, was at Halls Drug on the northwest corner of Allen (Main) and Main (Broadway) streets. This wood frame building held the city hall, school, church meeting, post office and such when the city first became incorporated. It served as the hub of the city until 1890, when it was torn down and the Webb City Bank Building was constructed. City hall moved to its new building, at 37-39 S. Allen (Main) St.

So where was the post office from 1895 to 1905? It moved across the street to 105 N. Allen (Main) St. until the Hatten/Raymond Building was completed in 1887 (home of the Humphrey’s Dept. Store, 1900).

So, the Post Office moved around a bit before it became located in its own building in 1905. And it stayed at that location until the current federal building (post office) was built in 1916.

It thrills me that even though I have been doing research about Webb City since 1989, when my column first started (35 years ago)… I can still find information that I didn’t know before.

Jeanne’s new book, “The Zinc City, Webb City, Missouri” is now available at Webb City Chamber Office.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.