In 1887, Monett was established and marked its beginning as a Frisco Railroad town. Originally a settlement called Plymouth, Plymouth Junction or Plymouth Crossing, this location was part of the Cherokee Indian’s “Trail of Tears” in 1837-38. Monett quickly became a vibrant Frisco terminal. This facilitated the growth in agriculture trade, retail commerce and small manufacturing.
The street names of early Monett identify what railroad officials were active: Bond, Cale, Wishart, Dunn, Benton and Scott. The street on the county line of Barry/Lawrence was named for the newly-elected President: Cleveland. Some “firsts” of Monett: first mayor was S. J. Courdin; first birth was Monett “Montie” Myers (painter and artist), first newspaper was The Monett Weekly News; first Police Chief Marshall was Anthony Segerer; first city hall was built in 1896 at the current location. The current facility was built by M. E. Gillioz in 1929. The first YMCA was the magnificent “Railroad YMCA” in 1898. Monett also had a full-scale Fred Harvey House and Hotel operating at the Frisco Depot.
Young Monett developed an economy of much diversity -- livestock, apples, tomatoes, cigar factory, ice plant, razor/cutlery factory, creamery, poultry, dairy and the famous “Ozark” strawberries. Monett became known as the Strawberry Capital of the Midwest. The first licensed auctioneer in Missouri operated with the Ozark Fruit Growers Association of Monett. However, the central “hub” of all the early economic activity was from the Frisco Railroad.
Some, but not all, important business leaders of early Monett were J. J. Davis and S. A. Chappell, hardware and postmaster (Chappell); W. F. Floreth, hardware; John Walsh, grocery; John Salzer, lumberyard; Dr. C. T. Dusenberry, Dr. J. M. Russell and Dr. William West, physicians; Logan McKee, druggist and airplane pilot; R. M. and Floyd Callaway, furniture and undertaking; Charles Mansfield, clothing; V. B. Hall, produce; M. E. Gillioz, contractor and banker; D. A. and Pearl Peters, publisher, Monett Times; F. P. Sizer, H. A. Gardner and Jim Sater, law.
The railroad economy of Monett was decreasing in the mid part of the last century. Several farsighted business leaders established the Monett Industrial Development Corporation that encouraged growth in manufacturing firms. Industry developed or relocated to Monett, employing over 6,000 area residents. The City of Monett is a working partner with businesses serving a national and international scope. Monett is headquarters for EFCO, a major manufacturer of custom windows, and Jack Henry and Associates, Inc., one of the fastest growing and largest suppliers of integrated computer systems for banks and other financial institutions. Tyson Foods, International Dehydrated Foods, Inc., Schreiber Foods, Miracle Recreation Equipment, Dairy Farmers of America and many others have plants in Monett.
After a major upgrade in the 1980’s, Monett Municipal Airport is a tremendous asset to business growth. This state-of-the-art facility is jet ready with a 5,000 foot runway, refueling stations and ample hangar space. This is a huge progression from the “Aeroplane” pioneer of 1911, Logan McKee, and the dirt runway of the old George Groh Airport that was located on Business 60.
Quality of life in Monett has always been nurtured and treasured. Dr. William West came to town in 1899 and established the first hospital in Barry County. In 1928, he built a brick hospital at the corner of Benton and Lincoln, eventually transferring it to the Vincentian Sisters of Charity in 1942. A new hospital was constructed in 1952-54. Today the expanded, renovated Cox-Monett Hospital can provide a full range of healthcare from obstetrics and emergency services to a new orthopedics facility.
The community has always demanded excellence in education and provided the resources necessary. Monett passed a bond issue in 1905 to build the first Monett High School at Cleveland and 9th Street. A class of ten students in 1906 graduated from this new building (cost $25,000) under the direction of Superintendent H. E. Blains. The late Governor Mel Carnahan dedicated the impressive new Monett High School in the fall of 1996. A progressive Southwest Area Career Center (vo-tech programs) serves 14 area school districts and moved to a new state-of-the-art facility in June 2007. Monett R-1 School District has four other campuses serving over 2,000 students. From 1927 to the early 1950’s, Monett Junior College operated in conjunction with the high school. Degrees offered included Associate in Education and in Science. College enrollment reached 100 by 1936, but WWII caused decreased enrollment and it was discontinued. Their most famous student and coach was John Q. Hammons of Springfield. Today, both Drury University, Springfield, and Missouri Southern State University, Joplin, have satellite campuses in Monett, as does Crowder College, Neosho.
The first Monett library was established in 1926 and was located in a small upstairs room in the City Hall with 1,061 volumes available for borrowers. The library merged into the county system in 1961. In 1973, the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library became the first consolidated library district in the State of Missouri. There are ten branches today, with a total collection exceeding 40,000 items. The Monett branch, along with the regional office, is housed in a building completed in 1975.
Recreational opportunities have always abounded in Monett. The renowned Monett City Park System began with a 1921 bond election to issue $25,000 in bonds. In 1923, 40 acres were purchased from E. E. Meador for $10,000 and a swimming pool constructed at a cost of $5,500. The park lake and casino building were constructed around 1926. Today many enjoy the municipal pool, tennis courts, ball field, skateboard park and newly expanded 18-hole golf course. Movies have been a part of Monett since the early 1900’s with Dreamland Theatre (between 5th Street and 6th Street, South Broadway), the famous Gillioz Theatre at 6th Street and Broadway, to the current Plaza 5 Theatre. Recently a new Monett YMCA organized with many worthwhile programs and a new facility is planned in the near future. With a responsive, progressive city government providing professional police, fire, utility and street departments, living in Monett can be a life-long, enjoyable journey.
History of Monett
Monett Chamber of Commerce 200 East Broadway P.O. Box 47 Monett, Missouri 65708 Voice: 417-235-7919 Fax: 417-235-4076 firstname.lastname@example.org