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Scott Joplin House stages comeback after break-in hits St. Louis museum

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Miya Norfleet
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Ragtime composer Scott Joplin wrote many of his popular rags in St. Louis including "Elite Syncopations." The Scott Joplin House was damaged in a recent break-in.

Scott Joplin — popularly known as the “King of Ragtime”— lived at 2658A Morgan St. 120 years ago. Plenty has changed since then: Morgan Street was renamed Delmar, and the modest apartment and adjacent buildings were transformed into the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site. Since 1991, the museum exhibits have kept Joplin’s music and legacy alive.

The historic landmark has experienced its fair share of burglaries and vandalism over the years — including almost being demolished in the late 1970s by the City of St. Louis. However, a recent break-in at the museum, which caused several thousand dollars in damage, has brought the music to a stop.

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Miya Norfleet
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St. Louis Public Radio
Cookie Jordan is the site administrator at Scott Joplin House.

That closure is only temporary, said Cookie Jordan, the site administrator at Scott Joplin House State Historic Site. On Tuesday, Jordan told St. Louis on the Air that she remains hopeful the museum will open its doors within a few months. In the meantime, she and her staff are still piecing things together.

“We have found and cataloged and recatalogued 1,271 [artifacts], and that includes sheet music and piano rolls and furniture and objects of art,” Jordan said. “It’s like piecing together a puzzle.”

For now, ragtime fans and history buffs will have to be patient for the museum's projected reopening in February 2023. Jordan said, “I think we'll make it … a bigger and better Scott Joplin House.”

For more on Scott Joplin’s music and life in St. Louis, listen to Cookie Jordan’s interview on St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast or Stitcher or by clicking the play button below.

Scott Joplin House stages comeback after break-in hits St. Louis museum

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Miya is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."

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