Steve Nelson and his excavator give the historic home at Madison and Ninth streets one of several final nudges.

Webb City landmark home pushed to dust

Bob Foos

After gracing Madison Street for 115 years, the landmark two-story house was broken and pushed to the ground Tuesday by the bucket of a track excavator.

The lot at 903 S. Madison St. is being excavated in preparation for construction of a Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen.

Madison Street wasn’t a commercial strip when Mayor George Moore had the house built for $10,000 in 1908. It was wide, in part, to allow streetcar tracks in the middle of it.

Route 66 was a block to the east on Jefferson Street before veering to Madison Street/Range Line Road.

Commercialization crept north on Madison Street when Walmart moved to the Webb City Drive-In property. Madison Street, was known as a speed trap for northbound motorists not realizing the speed limit dropped as they entered the residential district. Then the street was widened and striped for four lanes.

The development of City Pointe shopping center led to most homeowners on Madison Street getting their lots rezoned from residential to commercial.

Development slowed, though, because of the succeeding 2007-2008 financial crisis but it is definitely on the rebound.

The latest additions to the midsection of South Madison Street are Dollar Tree, Dairy Queen, Domino’s Pizza and Scooter’s Coffee.

And a Whataburger is planned to be built across the street from Popeye’s.

To many, the demolished house was known as the Sweet House because it was owned by Connie and Larry Sweet since October 1973.

Connie Sweet said she had tried for 11 years to sell the house to someone who would restore or rehabilitate it.

Steve Nelson, of Nelson Enterprises, says the Sweet House is the second largest he’s torn down. The largest, a two-story white house with wrap-around porch, was on the southwest corner of Seventh and Madison streets (where Domino’s is now).

Demolition of the site took longer than Nelson thought it would because of the difficulty removing the swimming pool and garage. Dust clogged the excavator’s radiator, causing it to overheat. Bricks and stone had to be separated from the rest of the debris to save on landfill weight charges.

There was one final challenge. As demolition of the house progressed, it became apparent that it was inhabited by bees. They attacked the back of Nelson’s neck and were attracted to Lanna Sweet-Frazier’s red hair.

Lanna, who was raised in the house, was determined to stand by it until the end.

Moments after the house was toppled Tuesday, Steve Nelson and Lanna Sweet-Frazier look at the rubble .