By Savanah Mandeville • Photos by Mandy Edmonson
When Jane Newton was a little girl, one of her favorite thins was going shopping at J.J. Newberry in Joplin with her mother.
“J.J. Newberry’s was what you’d call a dime store back then,” Jane recalled. “It had a soda fountain in it, and we would come in and get a stool. We’d been shopping up and down Main Street, and we would stop and get a Coke or piece of pie.”
That was in the 1940s, and J.J. Newberry was on the corner of 5th and Main, where Rosa Bella Bridal and Formal Boutique is today. In those days, Jane was fascinated by the big-city feel of Joplin compared to her hometown of Cassville, Missouri.
“I loved, loved, loved coming to Joplin shopping. There were a lot of stores up and down Main Street where you could go. A lot of shoe stores, dress shops, just different retail stores, and we would stay until it got dark and the bright street lights came on,” she said. “When we came to Joplin, it felt like a big city. I thought, ‘Oh, I wish I could live here.’”
In the year 2004, Jane got her wish. Her son and his wife, Brian and Peggy Newton, purchased the property at 502 Main in 2000. In 2004, Jane and her late husband, Bunny Newton, purchased the building from them. They remodeled and decorated the 5,000-square-foot, three-story loft above to be their home and transformed it into a space to make any New Yorker jealous. It boasts beautiful woodwork, four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a library, an enormous walk-in pantry and a master closet the size of a fifth bedroom. There is also a rooftop terrace and climate-controlled sunroom where Jane likes to spend afternoons reading.
The first floor of the home has a spacious, open-concept floor plan, making it ideal for entertaining. Over the years, it has been the locale for many Newton family parties as well as a front row seat to every Joplin Christmas parade. There was even a wedding in the loft.
The building was originally built around the year 1900. The family that owned it before the Newtons had put in all new electrical and plumbing but kept the original steps and brass hand railing leading down to the basement. What’s more, the entire structure is incredibly solid and was built to stand the test of time.
“If you’re in one room and you close the door, nobody can hear you. It’s so solid and so soundproof, it’s amazing,” Jane said.
It also still has the original service elevator with doors that open horizontally rather than vertically. The elevator travels from the ground floor, up to Jane’s loft and down to a full basement beneath the building. When they moved in, Jane gave it a glamorous update with red carpeting on the floor going halfway up the walls and a coat of black paint on top.
“I guess when we bought this building, I got my wish from when I was a little girl,” Jane said. “This is my dream home and such a hidden gem. I just love it here.”