Middle West Hotel – Webb City, Missouri
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 37° 08.781 W 094° 27.780
15S E 370074 N 4112109
Quick Description: Historic former Opera house then hotel and commercial building in Webb City, Missouri.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 4/16/2015 7:28:32 PM
Waymark Code: WMNQ2Y
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Long Description:

The original Grand Opera House, built 1883, was one of Webb City's first downtown, commercial brick buildings. It stood on the southeast corner of Main (now Broadway) and Alien (now Main), 80' wide streets, at the hub of the town's financial and business district. It was a Victorian vernacular building resembling Rifkind's "freestanding narrow and deep retail store, an Americanism that dots rural hamlets across the country, although it is particularly associated with the frontier...having faint echoes of high style sources in abstractly simple ornamental details." Indeed, the exterior qualities reflected the interior functions: the first floor had
large store-front glass windows facing Main Street and for the retail grocery and saloon, broadside advertisements facing Alien Street; the second story had the echoes of high style with stone lintels, corbelling, and scroll-like brackets throughout the cornice. Inside the second floor the opera house had a stage and a "small amount of scenery." The building stood on a Carthage limestone foundation.

The, 1902 remodeling of the multi-purpose commercial building into.a..three story one only enlarged upon the 1883 functional concept. The first floor accommodated offices, saloon, pool hall and a pawn shop, while the second and third floor became rooms for the Middle West Hotel. The ground floor entrances were moved from north to west entrances, facing the track of the new interurban Southwest Missouri Railway. A stairway to the south of the building was added, replacing the old exterior stairway on the east side. The exterior walls were laid in flemish bond brick with brick pilasters at corners and along the sides. Windows are double hung sash with smooth Carthage limestone sills and lintels. Roof trim has a metal boxed cornice with frieze and brackets (the addition to the top of the cornice in 1902 no longer remains, but the 1883 cornice is intact). The skylight, located in the center of the roof, lights the spacious 2nd floor and accentuates the 3rd floor balustrade. The roof rests on heavy trusses.

The Middle West Hotel is significant as a representative type of a turn-of-the-century multi-purpose, vernacular commercial building which was ubiquitous on boomtown and frontier landscapes, but for such structures only marginal or no preservation effort has been made; is significant as an anchor building on the "Main Street landscape" due to its strategic location at the historic and contemporary financial and business hub of Webb City; is significant as one of the town's first downtown brick buildings; is significant in the association of Joseph W. Aylor, mineral .speculator ,and town-father, as-co-financier of the 1883 structure and for the role of the Smith Brothers, the leading local builders and contractors, who renovated the 1902 structure; and is significant as the first property to be given preservation attention in Webb City, its success may dramatically effect the future role of development and revitalization for the Webb City landscape.

– National Register Nomination

The building has been restored and is in very good condition. It currently houses professional offices and other commercial establishments.


Street address:
1 S. Main St.
Webb City, Missouri

County / Borough / Parish: Jasper

Year listed: 1982

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event

Periods of significance: 1875-1899; 1900-1924

Historic function: Commerce/Trade, Domestic, Recreation And Culture

Current function: Commerce/Trade

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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