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Main Street organizations pursue historic buildings

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by Marti Attoun

SBJ Contributing Writer

Revitalization of historic downtown areas is gaining impetus, not only in Springfield, but in the region as area Main Street organizations move forward.

Main Street Carthage has announced the purchase of a historic building at 335 S. Main St., which formerly housed Southwest Clock Supply and Imagine Art Gallery.

The organization has leased space until now, so this is cause for celebration, according to Diane Sharits, executive director.

Along with buying the building, Main Street Carthage is starting a fund-raising campaign, with proceeds to be used to help unify and promote the downtown district. Improvements being considered include streetscapes and murals painted on exterior walls of buildings, new sidewalks, enhanced lighting, benches and new bicycle racks.

Meanwhile, Main Street Joplin Inc. and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have reached an agreement that could lead to the sale and development of the historic Joplin Union Depot.

The option gives Main Street Joplin one year to develop a restoration plan and to purchase the building for $50,000. The state appraised the property at $75,000.

Brian Marlow, director of the downtown revitalization group, said a task force will be developed to come up with recommendations for the depot, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The depot was designed by Louis Curtiss, a Kansas City architect who received national acclaim. It opened in 1911 and served as the city's hub for passenger trains until 1969.

The DNR took control of the property through foreclosure after the former owner defaulted on the state loan that had been obtained to restore and transform the property into a retail development.

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