Joplin spotlights iconic Connor Hotel

JOPLIN, Mo. – The City of Joplin turns 148 years old today and tonight, they’re celebrating that milestone by recognizing one of the most important landmarks of a bygone era.

November 11th, 1978. The day the Connor Hotel collapsed. “Well so many people remember where they were in 1978 when the Connor Hotel collapsed prematurely just prior to a scheduled demolition.”

Dr. Chad Stebbins from MSSU decided to write a book about the Connor, because people need to remember its legacy. “This book tells the story of how it originated, the million dollars that Mr. Connor spent building, all the extravagances that went into it, all the famous people who stayed there.”

Brad Belk, Joplin’s community historian, says those stories are what matter the most. “It is so meaningful to our past and it has even more meaning since there’s nothing there left, and so how do we tell those stories but through rich stories and Chad captured that very well.”

But he didn’t capture it overnight. “A few years ago I started wondering ‘well, is there enough material to write a book about the Connor’, and I started doing my research and it turns out there was far more than enough.”

It took four years of grueling research to track down all the stories the Connor had to share. “The Connor Hotel was so important in people’s lives in the sense of either they were eating, dining, dancing, seeing loved ones there, it was, when I think of the clubs, it started the Joplin Historical Society, the Rotary Club, our organizations began there and they held their meetings.”

Stebbins hopes his book will keep alive the city’s lost history. “Well so many people today really have a regret that the Connor was torn down in 1978, they sure wish the building could have been saved, that along with the Keystone Hotel across the street, it would be so fantastic if we could have these legacies from yesterday still standing at 4th and Main.”

Stebbins says you can purchase the book online through Amazon.

2009 KOAM Special Report

In 1978, the Connor Hotel collapsed a day early during demolition. Two workers died.

But days later, crews found a third man, Alfred Sommors, buried alive in the rubble.

KOAM’s Dowe Quick spoke with Sommers about that experience in a special report that aired on KOAM News in 2009.

You can watch the report below.