Old Photos: Neosho,MO

The Flower Box City: 1952–1968

Since the 1950s Neosho has been locally well-known as “The Flower Box City”, the name dubbed after the city earned the All-America City Award in the 1950s. In 1955 the town applied for and received a $5,000 grant from the New York Community Trust for a civic beautification project. Local companies provided lumber at cost, and the Jaycees formed an assembly line to build more than 200 wooden flower boxes. Pet Milk Company donated 400 used, wooden barrels for container gardens, and town nurseries supplied plants at reduced rates. The city even dressed up trash cans and parking meters around the courthouse square with flower baskets.

The effort earned Neosho a coveted All-America City Award from Look magazine and the National Municipal League in 1957. The Flower Box Promotion Committee has supported beautification ever since, awarding ‘Beauty Spot’ prizes each spring and summer to homes and businesses with outstanding yards, flower gardens, and flower boxes.

Life magazine photojournalist Wallace Kirkland covered the event for the magazine. A life collection of his photographs from this assignment, many previously unpublished, can be found in the Life photo archive, hosted by Google.

There are too many photos to post,so I am concentrating on the ones with old cars.

The rest of the set by Wallas Kirkland.

  • Country person

    One of J’s grandmothers lived in Neosho and he used to spend a lot of time down there with her. Several years ago when we were driving to Arkansas for a wedding, we detoured to see it and it was still very quaint and adorable. Teeeny. The main square you can see here in these photos is pretty much intact, although sadly most of the stores are gone. What was once a department store or 5 & Dime was a discount/thrift combo store and J’s brother bought his wedding suit there!

  • Mjfortner46

    The Firestone store in the third picture was my great grand father’s “Racket Store” in the late 1890’s.  He lived on the corner of Hill and Washington-I have pictures of both places from back then