EDITORIAL: Our past as part of our future

·2 min read

May 2—We'd like to add our voice to those congratulating Kim Bausinger and the Boots Court Foundation, as well as Jeremy and Lori Haun.

Bausinger is the manager of Boots Court Motel and the Boots Court Foundation the owner of the historic site in Carthage on Route 66; the Hauns own and restored the Muir and Willard buildings in the 900 block of Joplin's Main Street.

Both were recently recognized with a 2023 Preserve Missouri Award.

Founded in 1976, Missouri Preservation is a grassroots group that advocates for, educates about and assists in preservation of historic landmarks. They recently recognized eight restoration projects statewide.

"It's nice that our little corner of Jasper County, out of eight winners, two of those were from here," Bausinger told the Globe. "That makes me proud that the people in our area look at things with an eye toward restoration and not tearing down to make new."

The Boots Court Motel is one of the oldest Route 66 motels, and this renovation draws attention to it as the centennial of the Mother Road approaches in 2026.

The motel was bought out of bankruptcy court in the early 2000s by two sisters, whom Bausinger credits with saving it from ruin. The nonprofit Boots Court Foundation bought the motel in August 2021 and started a complete top-to-bottom rehab while preserving many of the original features such as hardwood floors and built-in desks.

For the first time in decades, all 13 rooms are open for visitors. In about six weeks, the new visitors center and motel office will be open.

In Joplin, the Muir was built in 1891, while the Willard, the southern building, was built in 1901. The Hauns had previously bought and remodeled a nearby building, and looking across the street at the Muir and Willard buildings, saw they were in such poor condition, Lori told us, that they feared they would be torn down.

"This whole neighborhood has been a place where you drive through and say, 'Someone should do something with these cool buildings.' We realized that somebody was us," Lori Haun said.

There are now 14 apartments and seven commercial spaces between the two buildings, with all spaces occupied.

Lori, who also is director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance, told us. "Downtown and our historic buildings are the heart of the city. It's where we remember where we came from, who we are. It gives us an anchor, a link to the past."

We applaud both groups, for having the vision and taking a chance on the investment.