I spent a fun afternoon, hosting an open house in one of Joplin’s historic homes. Built in 1893, by German immigrant Edward Zelleken, the large Queen Anne style home boasts 6000 square feet of spacious rooms arranged on three floors, with a full basement beneath it.
I had a great turn out today. More than 100 people toured the house, exclaiming over the old world charm and asking questions. They told stories too. I stationed myself in the large foyer, near the gorgeous grand staircase, to better greet people as they entered and speak to them before they left the house.
So many shared stories of growing up near the house or visiting family who lived in the neighborhood. As children they dreamed of peeking inside the house and wandering the grounds. I had the pleasure today of helping to fulfill long held childhood wishes for people who are now approaching their twilight years, while also chatting with potential buyers. I loved the interesting mix of listening to stories from long ago while also providing information about the house.
This grand old house has held families within her walls. Edward Zelleken was a succesful and influential businessman in Joplin, from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. He built several commercial buildings that are still standing and this elegant house. He was a close friend, business partner and rival of another early Joplin budinessman, Charles Schifferdecker, whose impressive residence is next door to the Zelleken House. I can imagine the friendly competitive spirit between these two entrepreneurial men, that included lively discussions over a shared fence.
The current owners also raised a family here, loving this older home, improving the grounds and the house without compromising its historical value. They are at a season in their lives where, having served them well, they can now release the house to new owners.
And in between the two families, the Zelleken House was home to Spiva Art Center. I heard today about art lessons taught here and exhibits that were on display.
As the open house concluded and the last of the lookers left, stillness descended upon the house again. I could almost hear the faint echoes of an earlier era. I could definitely feel the love and the sorrow within the house. Edward Zelleken enjoyed success in his professional life and great loss in his personal life. Three of his children preceded him in death, including a 19 year old daughter who died right before her wedding day. She was buried in her wedding dress.
As I turned off lights and locked doors, I wondered about Edward Zelleken. His colleague and friend, Charles Schifferdecker, has a street named after him in Joplin, and a park that includes a golf course. There are no streets or parks with the name Zelleken. Only an event center downtown, recently christened with the name, housed in a building that Zelleken built.
And yet Zelleken did leave a legacy. It is here, this proud house with a gothic look, a solid home that has withstood the years, 123 of them, with grace and dignity and strength. It waits now, patiently, for someone new who will love her and honor her past, while taking her boldly into the future.
Zelleken’s House. Zelleken’s contribution to Joplin. Zelleken’s legacy. He left his mark on this city, and literally on the front door of his house. He has made an impression on me as well. I think he might be delighted by that…and boasting gleefully about it to his friend, Charles Schifferdecker.