• Premier office space available, from 250 to over 20,000 sq ft
  • Retail space available on 1st floor, from 1000 to 8000 sq ft
  • Utilities included
  • Raised access floor systems for voice and data cabling
  • Tenants select office layout and flooring
  • Enhanced Enterprise Zone
  • Off hour security card access
  • 1st floor restaurant
  • Over 300 parking spaces
  • Fitness center for tenants
  • Flex space available (shared conference room, reception area, and break room)

Formerly known as the Bagcraft Building and the Inter State Grocer Building, the Gryphon Building will feature 123,000 sq ft of class “A” office and retail space in the heart of downtown Joplin offering modern business amenities with historic class. Completed originally in 1915, the rehabilitation will be completed in Spring 2010. The building will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified as a green building and is already placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Building History

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. Truck loading docks on the east (rear) and south elevations facilitated the circulation and distribution of goods to local retailers, for the Inter-State Grocer Company maintained a fleet of delivery trucks, which, by 1940, numbered at least seven. 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 building cost more than $225,000 and encompassed 130,000 square feet of interior space well-lit by more than 140 large multi-light steel sash windows. Sixty-four interior concrete columns resting on a limestone base set as much as 25 feet below grade support the building. These columns, which feature modestly decorative capitals throughout the building, are thirty inches in diameter on the basement level and taper to eighteen inches in diameter on the fifth floor. The building incorporated the latest in fireproof design, from the reinforced concrete construction, to fire doors, to the installation of a “modern automatic sprinkling device” with sprinkler heads for every eighty square feet of floor space. In addition, in case of fire and subsequent failure of the city water pressure, the roof supported a reserve water tank holding 25,000 gallons of water. Including areas specifically designed for food processing and storage, the building incorporated the most up-to-date design features for mechanical efficiency, labor saving, and sanitation needs. The centrally located elevator that could move 4,000 pounds of goods at 150 feet per minute and a spiral chute for descending goods as large as a barrel of sugar were major time-saving features. Pneumatic message and package tubes, speaking tubes, and a full telephone exchange facilitated communication between floors, within departments, and with the outside world. For employee comfort, restrooms for both men (second floor) and women (third floor, “equipped with necessities for feminine patrons”) were present. To accommodate visitors, the ample first-floor lobby featured water fountains and “a lounging place, a library table with newspapers and magazines, and several comfortable chairs”. The adjacent offices extended across the full width of the front of the building, with purchasing and sales departments to the north of the lobby and the auditing and billing departments to the south of the lobby.

Coffee was one of the company’s best selling products and the building design accommodated an enlarged coffee department with two large Monitor gas roasters on the fifth floor with a daily capacity of 15,000 pounds. The roasted coffee descended to the fourth floor for cleaning, purifying, and steel cutting, from where it descended again to the third floor for packing and weighing and packaging by female employees.

More than 5,000 people attended the February 19, 1915 grand opening, which included two receptions - afternoon and evening - that each featured decorations, refreshments, musical entertainment, and employee escorts. Attendees toured each floor and each department with sales force representatives hailing from Neosho, Nevada, Fayetteville, Springfield, Joplin, Pierce City, and Webb City, Missouri; Siloam Springs and Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Tulsa and Vinita, Oklahoma; and Galena, Kansas. Departments included the following:

  • Basement: cold storage, paper stock, syrups, and preserves
  • First floor: shipping, administrative offices
  • Second floor: general merchandise, preserving supplies, baking powders, dry goods, Jell-O, Kremel
  • Third floor: candy processing plant
  • Fourth floor: prepared foods, cereals, canned fruits and vegetables
  • Fifth Floor: coffee roasting and processing, vinegar storage vats

The company continued to be a major employer in Joplin throughout the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, the Inter-State Grocer Company officers included W.A. Corl, president; C.M Elam, vice president; and A.V. McCorckle, secretary.[6] Under their management, the company became affiliated with IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) and a certified distributor of IGA-brand goods.

Apparently 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.

Summary of Architectural Significance

The Inter-State Grocer Company Building reflects the progressive technologies of steel and concrete construction that emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century. The use of state-of-the-art construction technology and patterned brickwork and contrasting terra cotta treatments reflect a transitional period in the design and construction of commercial buildings that occurred in the United States beginning in 1890s and continuing into the first decades of the twentieth century. The building is among a select number of buildings in Joplin erected in the early twentieth century that utilized new technological advancements in reinforced concrete technology and it is significant for its engineering and structural design. Furthermore, the design and construction of the Inter-State Grocer Company Building illustrate the layout and spatial arrangement that successfully integrated diverse functional spaces. Its fenestration patterns, massing, scale, and fireproof materials clearly distinguish it as a distinct early twentieth century Factory and Warehouse Building property sub-type documented in the MPDF “Historic Resources of Joplin, Missouri.” Because of its retention of historic architectural integrity, the Inter-State Grocer Company Building meets the registration requirements of the MPDF and successfully communicates the architectural and commercial features that allowed the building to continue in its original function for much of the twentieth century. As such, the building reflects its associations with commercial architectural development in Joplin, reflecting common features of a particular class of the Factory and Warehouse Building property sub-type.

This page contains excerpts and historic photos from our National Register Nomination drafted by Sally Schwenk Associates, Inc.

Download floor plan documents

Note: Floors 2 through 5 have the same basic layout

First floor layout

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