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I am sitting at south John Q. Hammond’s Parkway and Cherry Street in front of Juanita K Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.
Since the iconic hotel developer and philanthropist’s death Sunday, we’ve reflected on his contributions to the area and the abundance of structures displaying Hammons’ name.
One of those buildings is Drury’s School of Architecture.
To get a better idea of Mr. Hammons’ vision for the school, I spoke with Jay Garrott, the founding director of Drury’s School of Architecture in 1984 when Hammons began contributing to the school.
“You are involved with so many architects around the county. What better way to pay it back than to start your own school and shape the architect of the future. He said ‘Yes Yes. I know exactly what they Need!’… Mr. Hammons’ was quite literal when he told me, he says ‘I will build you a building.’ And he did, with his cooperate architects and his money,” said Garrott.
Garrott says Mr. Hammons had a very strong belief that this was the place for a school of architecture with its strong basis in the southwest part of the state.
John Moore is the former president of Drury University.
“We were friends on a personal level but we did business…and this is a quality about John Q., he always saw things in business terms. In numbers, in volumes, in recognitions, and his vision for the School of Architecture was how many do you have enrolled? How’s the accreditation? And what kind of recognition have you had?,” said Moore.
John Q. Hammons wanted to bring people to Springfield. And that is just what Hammons Field does. The ballpark features the Double-A minor league Springfield Cardinals. And inside JQH Area, as many as 10,000 spectators can enjoy the play of Missouri State’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as numerous concerts.
While in Springfield, it is hard to not notice the impact he’s had on the city. In addition to the sporting and entertainment venues, there is the Hammons’ Heart Institute, 86 different Springfield streets which he helped name, and University Plaza Hotel, which city officials say changed the landscape of the downtown area.
Again, John Moore.
“He was one of a kind. He was a pure entrepreneur, a risk taker, gutsy tough businessman. He was a very generous philanthropist. There is not anybody who has done philanthropy in Springfield the way he has, “said Moore.
It is safe to say that the many accomplishments of John Q. Hammons will live on through his buildings, programs, and organizations.
For KSMU News, I’m Shannon Bowers.