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Local History

Rountree House

Rountree House Yields

"‘I shed some tears, inside,’ said Joel Rountree, as he watched the burning of his grandfather’s home at Main and Mt. Vernon, a sacrifice to progress as a block long site is cleared for a 98 unit, $1.8 million public housing project for elderly residents.

"The Newton Marion Rountree home was probably a hundred years old or maybe more; Joel Rountree, 76, believes he was born there, recalls his mother’s funeral, from the old home, when he was just a child. He and his father, Joel Hayden Rountree, lived there many years; his grandmother, Mrs. Newton Rountree, lived to the age of 94, and spoke of the house as though it had been her home since marriage. Newton Rountree was one of the founders of the Keet-Rountree dry goods store, which was located on South Avenue, Rountree School was named in his honor.

"[The] last member of the family to live in the old home was Mrs. Edith Johnson, Joel’s aunt. She and Mrs. Ernest Scholten operated a popular tea room in it some 45 years ago. Later it was sold and turned into an apartment house; Mrs. Johnson later returned and lived in one of the units.

"Joel Rountree retains the ownership of his present home at 514 South Main and the restaurant property at the rear which he operated for many years, selling ‘Rountree hams’ to customers ‘in every state’, including persons prominent in show business and politics. The restaurant, on the grounds of what was once the Rountree stable, will be at the back of the new apartment building, across its parking lot and Joel looks forward to watching the construction and meeting his new neighbors.

"Mid-Continental Planners and Constructors, Tulsa contractors, expect to begin work shortly on the apartment complex, which will be Springfield’s first public housing project. Destruction of the Rountree home, supervised by the fire department as a training exercise, virtually completed site clearance."

Leader and Press, October 9, 1969

The Library District has the Joseph Rountree family collection in the Local History Archives. Donated by the family, the collection consists of genealogical research, letters, documents, and photographs of the Rountree family.

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