Welcome to the past home of the Honorable Harry Durst, mayor of Springfield from 1932 to 1940. Built in 1912 by Judge Durst, who lived here for over 35 years, the building is part of the Walnut Street Historic District that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The following description was included in the nomination:
“Built in the Craftsman-movement inspired style. Two story house with a low pitch gabled roof and wide projecting eaves with large knee braces placed beneath. The first story is brick faced and the second is frame covered with stained butt shingles. There is a low pitch gabled roof porch across one half of the facade. A modern wood porch fills the remainder of the facade. At the stair landing on the east elevation is a pair of original geometric motif stained glass windows.”
In addition, the interior still contains ten stained glass cabinet doors in the old living room of the same motif, along with two stained glass lantern lamps. The original beamed ceilings can be seen downstairs, and original wainscoting is present throughout the house.
Even though there have been varied owners through the years, including a college fraternity, you’ll discover that much of the original character and charm of Judge Durst’s home has been retained.
Ebbets Field the restaurant, was started by Nick Russo in 1981 at 735 E. Cherry Street in Springfield, Missouri. Nick named the new venture for the old Ebbets Field baseball stadium in Brooklyn, New York (see inside back cover), that, incidentally, opened one year after this building was erected.
Having to relocate for Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) expansion, Nick moved Ebbets Field to its present location in 1994. Choosing to retire, Ebbets Field came under new ownership November 30, 2000.
Lance D. “Itchy” Reeves, purchased the restaurant from Nick and continued to carry on the tradition of providing good food for good folks in comfortable surroundings, and became a prominent figure in the downtown revitalization.
Ebbets Field LLC, was purchased by Swisshelm Group in August 2010 and carried on the tradition until Pub Management LLC, acquired Ebbets Field in June of 2012.
Pub Management looks forward to carrying on the traditions of previous proprietors…believing in the motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Major league baseball historians like to call the late 1940’s and early 1950’s one of the golden eras of the grand old game.
There was a great deal of enthusiasm for baseball after World War II as post-war prosperity energized the nation and large numbers of players who’d served in the military were back to return their teams to full strength.
There were 16 ball clubs, none of them west or south of St. Louis. Franchises didn’t move much, players stayed with their teams their entire career unless they were traded, players tried to play through their injuries and there was no designated hitter.
Travel was mostly by train as the eight-team American League and National League clubs played 154-game schedules with numerous doubleheaders providing fans two games for the price of one. Attendance grew and the cities of Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis each had two teams, while New York City was the acknowledged center of the baseball universe. New York had three teams: the Yankees, the Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
A stadium building boom in the early years of the 20th century had produced a dozen new ballparks, the first concrete and steel structures to house the nation’s teams instead of old wooden stadiums. These parks’ sizes and dimensions were frequently dictated by the city blocks on which they had been built.
The Yankees played in one of the newest parks around at that time, competing in the original Yankee Stadium, located in the Bronx. It was the game’s first triple-deck stadium and was a massive edifice seating some 67,000 people.
The Polo Grounds was the home of the New York Giants and the very large horseshoe was right across the Harlem River from Yankee Stadium. The Polo Grounds seated 55,000 and featured the general contours of a football or polo field with frighteningly-short foul lines of 257 and 279 feet.
And, in Brooklyn, the Dodgers played in Ebbets Field, a tiny bandbox limited in size by the confines of a city block and seating just over 30,000 fans. Spectators were right on top of the action and they loved their Dodgers.
Ebbets Field was a double-decked grandstand on three sides while right field had no seating but only a tall wall, fence and scoreboard.Dodger outfielders became adept at playing the caroms of balls hit off the uneven surfaces of the wall and scoreboard.
From 1947 through 1956, the Giants, Yankees and Dodgers combined to make 17 World Series appearances in 10 seasons. The Yankees dominated with five straight series titles between 1949 and 1953 and four more trips to the Fall Classic between 1955 and 1958. Brooklyn lost to the Yankees in the series in 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953 and the cry of “Wait ’til next year” was the borough’s rallying motto. Brooklyn finally broke through and won a seven-game series from the Yankees in 1955 for the first World Series win for the Bums, as they were affectionately known.
And, the magic of the era ended quietly after the 1957 season when the Dodgers’ fans love affair with their team was jilted as the Brooklyn club moved to Los Angeles. The Giants followed suit, relocating to San Francisco. New York was no longer the center of the baseball universe.
Ebbets Field was finally razed to make way for an apartment complex.
At the height of the era, arguments were continual as to whether the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle, the Giants’ Willie Mays or the Dodgers’ Duke Snider was the game’s preeminent center fielder. They were all excellent hitters with good power, speed and throwing arms. They provided one city with a wealth of talent at that position.
Snider was just one of a host of stars that made Brooklyn a hotbed of interest. Infielder Jackie Robinson had broken the game’s color barrier in 1947 as the majors’ first African American player, and the Bums had other standouts in first baseman Gil Hodges, shortstop Pee Wee Reese, catcher Roy Campanella, right fielder Carl Furillo and pitching stalwarts Don Newcome, Carl Erskine, Preacher Roe and Clem Labine. The lovable crew in those years was known as “The Boys of Summer.”
It was this wonderful time and town and team that was at the heart of the establishment of Ebbets Field, the restaurant, near the campus of then-Southwest Missouri State. The Dodgers were a club suited to their particular ballpark and their fans and it was a time of great civic pride for the borough and its residents.
And, the goal of Ebbets Field, the restaurant, was to bring that nostalgia to the Ozarks. The eatery started in an old three-story wood frame house on East Cherry. Baseball photos and memorabilia lined the walls. The menu featured sandwiches named after the New York City playing greats of the era, and the fun and serious competition of that time was woven through the fabric of a soon-popular eating establishment.
As the University needed to expand, the Cherry Street location went away, but not Ebbets Field. The restaurant shifted to a red brick house on Walnut Street, right in the heart of one of the area’s section of wonderful old historic homes.
The baseball and sports theme continued and the clientele hardly skipped a beat. The sports crowd found its way to the new location and the tradition continued as Ebbets Field stayed a gathering point for folks from all the city’s colleges. The area sports faithful showed up early and often, before and after various sporting events.
And, on a good day, it’s still not uncommon, over a burger or salad or some homemade soup or pasta and a cold one, for a friendly argument to break out about who really was better; Willie, Mickey or the Duke.