Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written ten nonfiction books, two novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Civil War Springfield, Wicked Springfield: The Seamy Side of the Queen City, and Murder and Mayhem in Missouri.

Friday, May 17, 2013

M.E. Gillioz

I go walking occasionally on the Wildcat Glades Nature trails along Shoal Creek south of Joplin. Part of the trail system goes over an old abandoned bridge that spans the creek. It used to be part of Highway 86 but was closed to vehicular traffic a number of years ago when a new bridge was built and now is open only for foot traffic as part of the trail system.
A few weeks ago I noticed a metal plaque on the bridge that said "M.E. Gillioz, Contractor. Monett, Missouri." I immediately wondered whether this was the same Gillioz for whom the Gillioz Theatre in Springfield was named. That is the landmark with which I automatically associate the name Gillioz. A little research on the Internet revealed that the answer is "Yes." It is the same man. Maurice Ernest "M.E." Gillioz was primarily known as a road and bridge contractor, but he also constructed a number of buildings like the theater in Springfield that bears his name.
Gillioz grew up around Rolla, Missouri. The first important building he built in southwest Missouri was the St. Mary's Catholic Church at Pierce City in 1904. He soon started building in Monett as well, moved there in 1914, and became a prominent citizen and benefactor to the community. Among the buildings he constructed in Monett were the high school, the Masonic temple, and the Gillioz Theatre of Monett. I believe the Gillioz Theatre of Monett, however, is gone and the Gillioz Theatre in Springfield is the only remaining building that still bears his name.
There are still a number of bridges remaining, though, that were constructed by Gillioz, including the Redings Mill Bridge south of Joplin that I usually walk over at least once or twice a week and that was built in 1930.

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