For six days in November of 1978, Joplin was in the national spotlight following the collapse of the Connor Hotel as it was being prepped for demolition. Two workers at the site were killed, while a third was trapped for more than 80 hours before being rescued.
“Next to the 2011 tornado, it’s one of the defining moments in Joplin’s history,” says Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute for International Studies.”
With the assistance of Bill Hunt, director of Creative Services for KGCS, Stebbins has assembled a video of news footage shot during the aftermath of the collapse. The reporting and B-roll footage shot by KODE follows the lengthy search that resulted in the rescue of Alfred Summers, the lone survivor of the collapse. It includes images of
rescue workers on the scene and a search dog named Sir Joel which was instrumental in locating Summers.
When KODE was moving out of their offices on 13th Street about a decade ago, Hunt retrieved a number of old news tapes that were being disposed of, says Stebbins.
“They were primarily from the late 1970s through early ‘90s,” he says. “I’ve been working on the book about the Connor for the last five years or so. About a year ago, Bill told me that those tapes had footage of the collapse and rescue. I went through it over the summer and picked out several good clips.”
Stebbins wrote the script for the video, which Hunt paired with the archival footage to create the nearly 8-minute presentation.
It’s a project sure to strike a chord with those who remember the storied hotel and its collapse.
“I was reminded of how bitterly cold it was,” says Stebbins of seeing the video footage. “And I had never seen the German shepherd or his handler who were flown in.”
Stebbins’ book about the history of the Connor Hotel, is set to be published later this year by The History Press, a subsidiary of Arcadia Publishing.