Just south of the Rex Whitton Expressway lies the historic Southside. The neighborhood is defined by Jackson Street to the east, Stadium Boulevard to the south, and Myrtle Street to the west. It includes Swifts Highway and the Panorama subdivision of Linden, Laurel, and Holly Drives and the more commercial areas such as Dunklin and Jefferson Streets. Within the Southside is the Old Munichburg area.
The name originates from many of the early German immigrants who settled the area in the mid-1800s who came from the town of Muenchberg in Bavaria. When they arrived, they named their new home after their old one; however, the story goes that other Jefferson Citians misunderstood the name, and the area soon came to be known as Munichburg.
The growing neighborhood was soon almost self-sufficient with grocery stores, schools, churches, clothing stores, and a fire department. The name was dropped during World War I when anti-German sentiment flared, and by the 1940s, the district was no longer known as Munichburg. It would be almost 50 years later, in the 1990s, before the name was resurrected.
Over 150 years after the area was first developed, people are still discovering this quaint area that retains many historic buildings and the same sense of community. Just over 20 years ago, the Old Munichburg Association (OMA) formed with the goal of revitalizing the area. Today, that revitalization effort continues as more and more people are drawn to the site.
Newly-elected OMA President Matt Holland is working to bring recognition to the unique and diverse area known as the Southside.
Holland said, "Our goal is to bring back the past events that allowed all of Jefferson City to experience the Southside as well as starting some new initiatives to help improve life in the residential areas. We want it to be a place where the neighborhood grows and businesses thrive; an area that's rich in character and features public events that enable residents and visitors alike enjoy the beauty of the Southside."
The group is well on its way. Through September, OMA has several events planned on the 4th Saturday of every month. The upcoming event in May will feature Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, while June's event will be a blues festival. Other 4th Saturday events during the summer will include an art festival, a guacamole contest, and the annual Oktoberfest in September.
Additionally, the organization is looking at ways to bring individuals who live in the community together. In April, the group hosted the 1st Annual Southside Litter Clean-up Day. The event drew residents as well as individuals who work but don't live in the area. One such person was local postal worker Dylan Gish who has the Southside on his daily mail route and chose to attend the event to help beautify the area.
Native Floridian Lizzie Harlan moved to Jefferson City several years ago and now owns two businesses in the area, J Street Vintage and Lizzie Lou's (a recently opened vintage clothing store). Harlan appreciates the sense of community the Southside has.
"Our area is a little different than other parts of Jefferson City. People can come and spend a few hours walking the area, shopping at the stores, and enjoying food from the unique eateries. We also have these amazing hills with the most beautiful views of Jefferson City! Almost anywhere you stop on the Southside, you can see the Capitol and the surrounding landscape," said Harlan.
The Germans who immigrated to Jefferson City included skilled artisans and craftsmen, primarily brick and stonemasons. That imported skill gives the Southside a unique architectural character which is apparent today. The streets still show many handsome, solidly built, and relatively unadorned brick buildings.
These historic buildings are all around the area but can easily be underappreciated. For example, the building at 626-628 Jefferson Street dates to the late 1800s when it was a wagon/blacksmith shop. Over the years, the building has housed several different businesses, such as the South Side Drug Store in the 1920s-30s and, more recently, In the Groove Records (which recently moved to 708 Jefferson Street).
Historic buildings such as this are an integral part of the neighborhood. They help retain a sense of history within communities that is all too frequently erased and lost. It's critical these buildings are preserved and that our community comes together to say, "These places matter!".
OMA recognizes this, and its members are doing what they can to preserve the area. Their work represents the power individuals have to uplift and renew their neighborhoods.
You can support OMA in many ways: become a member, purchase a t-shirt, or attend events in the area. If you would like to learn more about the neighborhood's history, local author Walter Schroeder has a number of books available for purchase at J Street Vintage and other local booksellers. Titles include Buddy's Stories, Southside Sketches,and Breweries and Saloons in Jefferson City.