JOPLIN, Mo. — A slice of Joplin’s past is inching closer to a new life as a living history museum.

Workers are now counting down the months to complete the restoration of historic homes at 4th and Sergeant.

“Our structures desperately needed tender loving care,” said Brad Belk, Joplin Community Historian.

Care that making more and more of a difference in the Schifferdecker and Zelleken homes.

Porch restoration is one of the latest projects completed.

“They were made of wood product and those deteriorated, and so what we did was we did a little forensics and looked to see where the roof line hit the wall. The pitch of the roof and getting the little details of everything was extremely important,” said Belk.

Exterior detail work is essentially complete restoring and replacing many unique elements that were a priority to one of the original owners, Charles Schifferdecker.

“The story goes he brought German craftsmen to do the facade work and that is just extraordinary. The terracotta work and then the rounded brick is just very, very distinctive and one could only do that with having the resources to be able to do that,” said Belk.

Work has, at times, seemed slow as crews discovered structural issues and searched for a historically appropriate fix.

“We had a lot of structural issues. The ship for the Decker house was tipping at two points, so we had to put this basically on a giant concrete block. The walls were pulling apart so we had to put a bond beam to lock them in. The same thing with the tower it was pulling away,” said Belk.

Historic accuracy is the goal for the majority of the project but there are exceptions, like a one-of-a-kind viewing platform on the third floor of the Schifferdecker House.

“I looked at a very unique, innovative way that we might be able to use that cross and so we’re going to be able to give tours on multi-levels, and it’s just a really going to have to see it to understand what we’re talking about,” said Belk.

The basement will also be transformed.

“This is the place where they’re going to get their ticket, this is a place where they will find out their schedule of when they’re going on their tours, and this is a shelter. Unfortunately, we need that too,” said Belk.

Work started back in 2018.

While that may seem slow, it’s on purpose.

“There’s a good reason that we’re doing in a slow process because we want it done right and we don’t want to burden the next generations with a long laundry list of what things they need to do,” said Belk.

Crews now believe they’ll be able to wrap up construction in 2023.