Gryphon Building

DATE: 2010
LOCATION: Joplin, Missouri, USA
OLD USE: Warehouse and Office
NEW USE: Office and Retail


History

The Inter-State Grocer Company evolved from the merging and expansion of three existing ventures located in three separate communities in Missouri and Kansas – William F. Spurgin’s Webb City retail grocery; the Rogers & Nix Grocer Company of Joplin; and the Galena Grocer Company of Galena, Kansas. In 1901, these three grocery operations combined to form the Inter-State Grocer Company with headquarters in Joplin at the former Rogers & Nix building at 924 South Virginia Street.

By 1913, the Inter-State Grocer Company had outgrown its complex on South Virginia Street and began plans for the construction of a much larger, more efficient edifice. The company officers chose a site just across the railroad tracks to the south where the former S.C. Henderson Wholesale Grocer Company had occupied a late nineteenth century building on South Main Street since circa 1902.

The company contracted with prolific Kansas City architect, John McKecknie, for the design of a new, fireproof warehouse, processing, and distribution facility. McKecknie, had used reinforced concrete as early as 1903, and his reinforced concrete design for the Inter-State Grocer Company would be described as the “the most ideal in the middle west for wholesale business purposes.”

The contracting firm of Bane & Hoffman completed the Inter-State Grocer Company Building in 1915. The building’s location, directly adjacent to railroad tracks and South Main Street, allowed for easy freighting access and efficient transport of goods by both rail and truck. A rail spur lead directly along the building’s north elevation, allowing direct, level access from rail freight car into the building, eliminating the need for trucking between the rail line and the warehouse. A five-bay, one-story brick garage building was constructed at the east end of the lot for truck storage and maintenance.

The five-story building with its sophisticated facade design became an immediate landmark, taller than any other building in the immediate vicinity. The company continued to be a major employer in Joplin throughout the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, the company became affiliated with IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) and a certified distributor of IGA-brand goods. The company downsized after World War II, for in 1948, the KFSB radio station, advertised as “Joplin’s only 5000-watt station,” occupied available space within the building. From 1948 until 1956, the KFSB studio and offices were on the first and second floors in the northwest portion of the building and they broadcast from the roof of the building, still the highest in the vicinity.

In 1968, the Inter-State Grocery Company and IGA constructed a new warehouse in the Joplin South Industrial Park and vacated the building at 1027-1030 South Main Street. The following year, Joplin Building Material Company, a supplier of concrete, brick, sand, stone, masonry, and other building supplies, moved into the building and used it as a warehouse. Future Foam Inc. and Vickers Factory warehouse also occupied space in the building at this time.

In 1972, all tenants vacated the building when the Bagcraft Corporation, a Chicago-based firm, purchased the building and installed their Midwest Division bag and paper products manufacturing operations. The company operated at this location until 1994 when they vacated the building and moved the operation 20 miles west to Baxter Springs, Kansas. The building has been vacant since.[1]

(Re)Developer

Gryphon Building, LLC was founded with the purpose of converting and reestablishing the old Interstate Grocer Building (Bagcraft Building) as a commercial center

Butler, Rosenbury & Partners (BRP) is located in Springfield, Missouri, and specializes in architecture, structural engineering, planning and development. The firm has worked on a number of adaptive reuse and preservation projects.

Outcome

The adaptive reuse of the five-story structure resulted in the creation of retail space on the first floor and high-end office space on the remaining four stories. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 and has since gained LEED certification due to the conversion work.

Part of the funding for the project was provided by historic preservation funding, Brownfields redevelopment tax credits, development block grant funding and tax abatement. The Brownfields redevelopment tax credits were used for lead paint and pigeon droppings, though a majority of it went towards asbestos remediation in the window panes.[2]

[1]National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, filed 9 Sept, 2008
[2]Joplin Independent

Images courtesy of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners.