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In the News:

Published May 26, 2007
Late doctor’s family gather at childhood home for auction
— By Derek Spellman

For the city, it is a relic of Joplin’s bygone boomtown days.

For one family, it was home.

Seven of the late Dr. Irvine Kilbane’s eight children and stepchildren made a final pilgrimage to Joplin this week for the sale of their father’s house at 420 S. Byers Avenue. Known as the Schwartz house, the 117-year-old brick piece of history boasts a striking square corner tower, stone lintels, a chimney pot and stained glass.

Kilbane and his wife, Jo, purchased the home in about 1963 and used it both to anchor their robust family and to house an impressive collection of antiques. Kilbane used the carriage house that was built on the property in the late 1890s as a medical office.

Both buildings and the property sold for a total of at least $115,000 on Saturday afternoon after a public auction. Family members declined to say what the final sale price was. A portion of the furniture and antiques also were sold via a separate public auction.

“You are not only (moving) out the furniture, you are (moving) out the memories,” said Bobbi Pauline, Kilbane’s stepdaughter, who lived in the house for six years before moving to California in 1972.

Pauline recalled the house as a place that was “always filled. There was always a meal being cooked.”

It was the center for a vibrant family.

The Kilbane children used to cruise Main Street, catch fireflies in the yard or play in Kilbane’s office when he was through with work, Pauline said.

“The girls who worked in the office were like extended family,” she said.

David Rosenak, one of the eight children, said he never lived in the house because he was serving in the Air Force.

But he frequently visited the house, which he said helped his parents fulfill their dream of building a great antique collection.

“I have been here many times,” he said

One of Rosenak’s favorites was a Victrola in the shape of a grand piano. And there was the dining-room table, which could seat 25 people with all of its 10 leaves.

The table was among the house furniture and antiques sold at auction Saturday. The Kilbane collection included items such as fine china, carved wooden chairs, toys, an organ, antique stoves and sewing machines, and “photo tins”, or photographs on tin plates.

The Kilbane children are now scattered across the country in states such as California, New York and Georgia, Pauline said.

The sale of the property will probably mark the last time the family will gather in Joplin, she said.

“It is sad,” she said of the sale of the house.

A chronology

The house at 420 S. Byers Avenue was built in 1890 for Simon Schwartz, who was a dry-goods merchant. It sold a few years later to John Graham, a wholesale grocer who built a carriage house at the rear of the home in 1898. After Graham, the house was occupied by Dr. Samuel Grantham and his wife, who turned the carriage house into a medical office and surgical room. Kilbane purchased the house from Grantham’s widow about 1963. When Kilbane died several years ago at age 89, the family decided to clear out the house and put the property up for sale.

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Globe/Derek Spellman
Chris Fricker, of Fricker Auctions, based out of LeRoy, Ill., holds up pieces of history collected by the Irving Kilbane family. The home at 420 S. Byers Ave., was auctioned off on Saturday, along with furniture and antiques.



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