In her glory days, the Robertson Apartments were state-of-the-art dwellings, where Joplin’s more prestigious residents had access to such amenities as a direct telephone system, a safe (which remains intact in the lobby), gas stoves and the day’s finest boiler heating system. Individual apartments keep the original layout, including built-ins, such as Murphy beds and dressers, as well as a full-bath, a small dressing room and a small kitchen. Those residing just behind the building’s facade also have elegant French doors that open onto private balconies. Or so they did. Presently, the Robertson is a hodgepodge of quick “fixes” and broken windows. She sits wide-open and empty, save for the trash strewn about her corridors and rooms.
A few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I decided to take a tour of the building. Visitors are warned as follows:
Upon entering, we discovered that it looks as though the building was suddenly abandoned. Left behind are belongings of all sorts: books, clothes, coolers, food, furniture, shoes, televisions and so on. At best, the apartments now look something like this:
Further exploration revealed that all of the door knobs have been taken off of the doors; the sinks and commodes are detached and dismantled; and appliances, such as refrigerators, stand with their doors open, some still containing food. Painted on one of the first-floor apartment doors is a warning to stay out or get shot. Heading West down the first floor’s main hall, we took note of a foul smell, presumably emanating from the cut-outs near the floor, which likely lead to the basement. We decided to venture neither downstairs nor upstairs.
Like many of Joplin’s historical buildings, the Robertson Apartments are falling into disrepair. This doesn’t have to be yet another sad story–the building is for sale. Only time will tell of her fate: disrepair/demolish or rescue/restore? No doubt Riley Robertson would lobby for the latter.