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Historical documentary of Newman’s Department Store to debut at City’s 139th Birthday Celebration
In honor of the City of Joplin’s 139th Birthday, City officials, in cooperation with Judy Stiles, the General Manager of KGCS-TV, are proud to debut a documentary entitled, “If These Walls Could Talk”….Joplin’s Newman Building, the significance of one of the City’s oldest buildings, the Newman Building. The first showing of this 30-minute historical documentary will be at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 23 in the Council Chambers located on the fifth floor of Joplin City Hall, 602 South Main.

The City of Joplin purchased the Newman Building in 2003 and after extensive renovations, moved City Hall operations into the historical structure in 2005. In November 2010, City staff hosted a Centennial Birthday celebration recognizing the Newman Building’s milestone, and invited the public to join in the event, including all former employees of the Newman Department Store, the building’s original tenant. More than 150 people joined in the Centennial celebration, with KGCS-TV recording the event and hosting various interviews with the former employees. The employees enjoyed the opportunity to reunite with fellow workers, as well as tour the building as City Hall.

Following the event, City staff, Stiles and Joplin Historian Brad Belk discussed the important impact that the Newman Building had on the Joplin community, and decided to produce this documentary. KGCS-TV operates as a service of the Department of Communication at Missouri Southern State University, so Stiles, along with Bill Hunt, Creative Services Director at MSSU, recruited Michael Woodruff, videographer, and other students to participate in the project. The film features 15 different people reflecting on how this building has been a part of their life.

If unable to attend the debut showing, it will also be aired on KGCS-TV in upcoming weeks and throughout April. Times already scheduled include:

  • Sun. March 25 – 6:30 p.m.
  • Tue. March 27 – 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m.
  • Sun. April 1 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Tue. April 3 – 7:00 p.m.

Stiles and her staff would like to give special thanks to the Joplin Museum Complex for providing many historic still photographs; along with The Joplin Globe for their contribution of pictures and articles for the film; and Leslie Simpson with the Post Art Reference Library for her research and background information for this film.

The public is welcome to attend this special debut and enjoy refreshments in celebration of the City’s 139th Birthday. Joplin was incorporated by the state of Missouri as a city on March 23, 1873.