Frank Childress made his fortune in the mining business in the area as the owner of Lead and Zinc Mining Company. His legacy lives on with the Frank Childress Boy Scout Reservation, located near Diamond, Missouri. The grounds were originally a recreation home for the Childress family. Son, Paul Childress donated the land to the Scouts in 1964. The camp included campsites named after the characters of Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” a large swimming pool, dining hall, pirate ship, old west fort, old mine, Indian village, and a stocked trout pond for fishing. The reservation is also home to many hiking and biking trails and abounds with native plant and animal life.
Samuel Austin Allen arrived in Joplin in 1890 at the age of 10. His father was J.W. Allen an early pioneer and successful mine operator in the area. Austin graduated from Joplin High School in 1898. He received a degree in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in 1902 and later went to Paris where he pursued his interest in architecture. Returning to the United States Allen became associated with Bruce Price of New York, one of the foremost architects in the United States. After two years in New York he returned to Joplin to begin practicing his craft in 1905. Allen was an extremely successful architect with offices in Kansas City and in the Frisco Building in Joplin. His professional Joplin resume included such handsome structures as the Newman Building, Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, Olivia Apartments, Joplin High School, United Hebrew Temple, Elks Lodge, and many impressive homes. Mr. Allen was a member of the American Institute of Architects. His obituary in their journal noted, “that his work was marked by a “chaste dignity and scholarly restraint.” Mr. Allen married Belle Taylor and had three children.
The land this house sets on was deeded by Lulie Taylor to her daughter, Belle Taylor Allen for “$1 and Love and Affection.” The house is not first period, meaning two houses were razed and lots combined so Austin could design and build the house you see today. Belle’s parents, John H. and Lulie Taylor were Joplin pioneers and made their fortune in mining and real estate.
It is believed Austin added a second floor sleeping porch to his house at some point. At a later date, the porch was enclosed to create year-round additional living space. This practice was not uncommon in the Murphysburg district.
The living room is paneled in rich dark oak. Some of the features include a large brick fireplace, diamond paned bay windows with built-in window seats, beamed ceilings, and a leaded glass bookcase. After Belle and Austin moved to Kansas City, Missouri, this house was sold to Frank Wallower. The U.S. Census shows Frank, wife Marie, three sons, a private cook, and a private nurse residing here in 1920. The Wallowers moved out in 1943.
The Arts and Craft movement the heavily influenced Austin Allen when he designed his home in 1905, for it clearly reflects the movements principals, beautiful materials and honest craftsmanship. Prominent feature in the home include the rich polished wainscoting. Curved built-in window seats, massive brick fireplace and leaded glass bookcases. The most impressive feature however is the elegant coffered ceiling, reminiscent of the homes of the English Tudor and Jacobean periods.
The Allen Mausoleum is located at Mount Hope Cemetery. Inside Allen’s mausoleum is a resolution from the Kansas City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Several family members interned in the mausoleum.
The mausoleum architecture features solar disks between the pair of falcon wings at the very top. It represents the sun god, Re and rebirth. Mr. Allen married Belle Taylor and had three children. He died at the early age of thirty-six from typhoid fever.
Interned Austin S. Allen -3-3-1917, Walter Scott Estes -2-12-1926. Linda McOwen Allen -6-6-1926, Whitby J. Allen -5-22-1930 and Austin Allen Jr. – 12-2-1940
Austin Allen, Architect
Dieter Wetzel, Builder
Listed on the National Register in 2008
The Olivia had a well-deserved reputation as the “handsomest apartment house in the West.” Arthur Bendelari, a civil and mining engineer from Canada, moved to Joplin during the mining boom. He commissioned architect Austin Allen and the contracting firm Dieter and Wenzel to construct this 5-story, $150,000 masterpiece. Construction began February of 1906, and it was open in October that same year.
Arthur Bendelari had a reputation for being a well-liked charmer. He owned one of the town’s first automobiles, and he would race anyone anytime, especially if it involved wagering. He named the Olivia after his mother, Mary Olivia Bendelari.
Decorated in “Pompeian fashion,” the public spaces of the Olivia sparkled with solid Italian marble. The lobby decor impressed all who crossed the threshold where mosaic tiles spelled out “Olivia.” Passing through the elaborate rotunda, visitors entered the reception room, finished in old ivory and lit by skylights and a large leaded glass window with the name “Olivia” expertly crafted in multi-colored glass. A highly polished oak staircase spiraled up from the lobby, connecting all five floors. Electric elevators, both passenger and freight, also provided easy access to all parts of the building. A uniformed attendant provided 24-hour elevator service.
The red brick Olivia comprised 34 one and two-bedroom apartments, for a total of 110 rooms. Some of the larger apartments had almost 2,000 square feet of living space. All of them featured built-ins, fireplaces, marble bathrooms with claw-foot tubs, and every labor-saving device known at the time. Tenants enjoyed bright airy rooms with French doors opening onto private balconies. A roof garden overlooked the city, affording spectacular views in all directions. On clear days, one could even see Webb City. Trolley lines ran down 4th Street, right next to the building, taking residents wherever they wanted to go.
The Olivia’s Current Situation:
After many false starts and a tragic fire in December 2020, this Murphysburg landmark is being
restored by Blue Haven Homes and Bykota REI, along with Neal Group Construction &