Bonnie and Clyde shootout site nominated for historical preservation

Saturday, February 14, 2009 | 3:30 p.m. CST; updated 7:44 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 14, 2009

JOPLIN — A Joplin apartment that was the scene of a fatal shootout with Bonnie and Clyde has been nominated for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation approved the nomination on Friday. The nomination will be forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C., for final approval.

Two law enforcement officers died at the apartment on April 13, 1933, during a confrontation with the infamous criminal couple and other members of the "Barrow gang."

Allen Shirley, a Joplin resident who is vice chairman of the state council, said Friday's nomination was the result of a two-year effort to get the site listed. He said the federal register has about 45 days to accept or reject the nomination.

The encounter with the "Barrow gang" at the garage apartment represents "a defining moment in the saga of Bonnie and Clyde, and it is Missouri's most intact and best preserved structure with a strong and clear association with the notorious outlaw lovers," according to the document nominating the structure for the National Register of Historic Places.

According to historians, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Elizabeth Parker were staying at the apartment with Blanche Caldwell Barrow and her husband, Buck, who was Clyde's brother. A friend, W.D. Jones, was also there.

Police were informed of the possibility that bootleggers had moved into the apartment. The shooting began almost as soon as two police cars with five law enforcement officers arrived, leaving Newton County Constable John Wesley Harryman and Joplin police Detective Harry McGinnis dead.

All those inside the apartment escaped.

The gang killed several other people and committed numerous robberies in a crime spree that drew national attention. Buck Barrow was killed and Blanche was captured during a shootout with police in Iowa on July 29, 1933. Jones was captured in November 1933 in Houston.

Bonnie and Clyde were shot to death by law enforcement near Sailes, La., on May 23, 1934.

Shirley said the apartment is the only free-standing location associated with the outlaws still standing in the country. The Bank of Oronogo, which the gang robbed, has been altered so much that it no longer qualifies for nomination to the list.

A plaque honoring Harryman and McGinnis will be placed on the exterior of the apartment.

The apartment is owned by Phillip and Jackie McClendon, of Joplin, who have painstakingly recreated the look of an apartment in the 1930s.


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