Reviving Mansion’s past

Chet McCann, Pinnacle Construction, works on replacing the windows in the Mission Hills Mansion. The Pella windows are high-energy efficient, double-pane glass and are maintenance free.

Kristin Wilfing

Chet McCann, Pinnacle Construction, works on replacing the windows in the Mission Hills Mansion. The Pella windows are high-energy efficient, double-pane glass and are maintenance free.

To be completed the middle to end of October, the exterior renovation of the Mission Hills Mansion looks to build traditions by making the old new again.

“The intent is to make it a focal point on campus for everybody at this point so we have something that’s the oldest part of our campus that we can kind of build tradition around,” said Bob Harrington, director of the Physical Plant.

Beginning approximately three weeks ago, Harrington said three contractors have started working on the exterior of the Mansion. He said the first contractor is working on the roof.

“What we are doing on the roof is we took all of the clay tiles off the roof, removed all the underlayment (and) we were going to replace any decking on the roof that was bad,” he said.

Harrington said the decking was in good shape and did not need any replacing. After that, new underlayment will be installed and new clay tiles will be placed back on. He said the roof will look like it was before.

“But, we have to wait after we get the stucco before we replace the rest of the roof at this point,” Harrington said.

The second contractor is to replace the stucco on the building. Harrington said all of the stucco has been removed.

“They will probably start next week putting the stucco back on,” he said.

Harrington said the Mansion was in good shape, but two areas needed some rebuilding – two of the chimneys.

“Once we got the stucco off, the brick was just totally deteriorated and we had to tear them down and build them back,” he said.

Lee Eliff Pound, alumni director, said it was fun watching the contractors jackhammer the stucco off the walls.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s something different everyday. It’s fun to see them progress.”

The other area that needed rebuilding was the entrance going into the fountain room on the east side of the Mansion.

“There was a large copper awning over that door,” Harrington said, “and obviously over the last several years we’ve had water that had gotten back behind the stucco and that deteriorated a lot of brick in that area.”

The first layer of brick was removed and replaced, Harrington said.

“That’s all done now, and it’s ready for stucco,” he said.

Harrington said the last contract was to replace the windows.

“The windows are probably three-quarters of the way complete now of putting all new windows in,” he said.

He said the new windows are high-energy efficient, double-pane glass and are maintenance free.

“The windows from an appearance standpoint look just like the ones that were there,” Harrington said. “It will look the same, but it’s going to be much more efficient.”

Pound said the brand of windows in the Mansion is Pella.

“It’s aired it out,” she said.

As of right now, there are no contracts for the inside of the Mansion yet. Harrington said they are waiting to receive more funding.

“The Foundation and the Alumni Association are raising the money for the project,” he said.

He said the earliest for the inside would be next summer or fall.

“I would like to be able to move on right with it but obviously we would have to have the money in the bank to be able to do that,” Harrington said.

Harrington said the first three contracts totaled $350,000.

“That was all the money they had in cash at this point to be able to move forward with it,” he said.

Harrington said they are hoping more donations come in.

“Once everyone sees the outside of the building restored and looking really nice then the donations will actually pick up for the inside of it,” he said. “We will be able to move forward with that.”

Bob Higgins, a donor and member of the Mansion restoration committee, said restoring the Mansion is something to tie it back to the past.

“It’s part of the heritage,” he said. “They (students) have something to tie back to.”

Higgins has been involved with the University for a long time and graduated from Joplin Junior College in 1942. He has also been a former member of the then Board of Regents, Outstanding Alumus in 1974, capital campaign phase II chairman and was on the committee that picked University President Julio León. He said it was the right time for the association to restore the Mansion.

“It was time for the Alumni Association to become an Alumni Association,” he said. “It was the obvious task that had to be done. It just takes a little time (and) the time is now.”

Harrington said the Mansion is the oldest building on campus.

“It was originally the house for the dairy farm that was in the area that became our campus at this point,” he said.

Built in the 1920s, the school of business originally used the Mansion and after that it was used by the school of social studies.

“After Webster Hall was built, they moved out,” Harrington said. “The building has been vacant basically for the last 13 to 14 years. It has some deterioration (and) a lot of it which we thought was the roof turned out to be the windows and the stucco that was a problem.”

Harrington said the Alumni Association offices will be upstairs, and they will start holding functions such as meetings, receptions and parties in the building.

“The downstairs area will open up a lot of the areas that were kind of enclosed when it was used as classrooms and office space,” he said, “so it will be a wide open area again.”

Harrington believes the Mansion will be something the University can be proud of.

“Hopefully (we can) start building some traditions around Missouri Southern as a relatively new school when you compare it to a lot of schools across the country,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of built-in traditions we’ve carried on year after year.”

Harrington believes the Mansion and some activities the Alumni Association has planned will begin the process of establishing traditions.

“It’s been a really neat project and we’ve been real pleased the way at least the first three phases of the exterior is going,” he said.

León said he is excited about the restoration of the Mansion.

“At least the outside is going to be brand new,” he said. “We are going to stop the elements from infringing and damaging the insides so that is going to look beautiful from the outside. I think all-in-all it’s going to be a great thing.”

Pound said she has kept six of the largest original windows from the Mansion and will place photos from the beginning of the Mansion to photos of the restoration process in them and three small windows will be made into stained glass windows to hang in the offices. She said making these will keep the history and are looking through the windows of the Mansion.

“They (large windows) will make interesting picture frames,” she said.

Pound said the check on the progress of the Mansion restoration, one can go to to see photos.

“It’s really exciting to see it,” she said.

Cookbooks are still available in the bookstore for $10 in which the funds will help to restore the dining room. Pound said the Alumni Association is also selling bricks that will be recognized at Homecoming and reunions. She said the bricks will be placed in the courtyard and will leave a lasting legacy.

“We are going to continue to add on,” she said.

With more than 100 bricks, the courtyard will be used for receptions, pre-game tailgate parties and other outdoor events. To donate, it is $100 per brick, which is also tax deductible, and will have an inscription engraved with three lines of up to 15 characters for a 4 x 8 brick. An 8 x 8 brick can have six lines of up to 15 characters. For $1,000, a weather-resistant bronze plaque will be placed in the courtyard.

Alumni, faculty and staff have a one-time chance to be part of the MSSU Alumni Association Society Giving Club by pledging support to be on the plaque. Depending on how much donated, there are three different areas: presidential gold society ($5,000 to $9,999), presidential green society ($1,000 to $4,999) and young alumni president’s society ($500 to $999). To be included in this opportunity, the deadline is Oct. 1.