Southwest Missouri is dotted with friendly neighborhoods where everyone is like family. Kids march hand-in-hand in Fourth of July parades, and proud parents share recipes at poolside potlucks. Volunteers organize back-to-school bashes and fall hayrides. Neighbors have block parties. They carpool to school. They have one another’s back. And with so many loving, caring people so close by, people are happy. They love where they live.
We talked to some of these neighborhood-loving residents, and we also worked with the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors and Ozark Gateway Association of Realtors to gather facts and statistics for each spot. Whether you’re looking to move or you want to improve your own neck of the woods, this story has something for you. Get a glimpse into the friendliest neighborhoods in 417-land, then use the ideas and tips to transform your own community into a place you love to call home.
Photo by Brandon Alms. After growing up in Springfield’s Rountree neighborhood, Jim Lohmeyer raised his daughters there. Today he enjoys the picturesque community with his grown daughters, sons-in law and grandchildren.
Generations of Families: Roundtree
Most people are pretty impressed when they learn Jim Lohmeyer has lived in Central Springfield’s Rountree neighborhood his entire life. But it’s what he tells them next that really blows them all away. “I’ve actually lived on the same street, Weller, for 45 years,” Jim says.
Jim’s parents, Robert and Carol Lohmeyer, moved to Weller Avenue when Jim was 4 years old. He then moved to another home on Weller as an adult, and then yet another—the American Foursquare where he and his wife, Jill, still reside today—22 years ago.
While the couple’s three daughters are all grown and out of the house, Jill still takes care of their grandkids two days a week. This means they are able to enjoy the many charms of Rountree with their grandkids, just as they did with their daughters some 20 years ago. “Rountree is really well-known for Halloween and its big parade,” Jim says. “That parade actually ends in front of our home and the neighbor’s home. Now the girls and their kids all come over to watch it. Halloween in Rountree is a very big deal. It’s a very special time.”
But the fun doesn’t stop there. The neighborhood has a great location near the center of Springfield, situated between Glenstone Avenue and National Avenue north of Bennett Street and south of Elm Street. It’s known for its walkability and character, and the homes here range from large, historic American Foursquares, just like the Lohmeyers’, to cute little Craftsman-style and bungalow homes, and many people buy to renovate. Just like the residents, the homes in Rountree have character, and people love to walk around and take it all in. “It’s phenomenal how many families are always walking outside with dogs and their strollers,” Jim says. “A lot of people ride bikes here, or just sit out and enjoy their front porches.”
And whether he and Jill are taking the grandkids to Elle’s Patisserie for ice cream or simply wandering the familiar streets and enjoying some exercise, one thing is for sure: Jim feels happy and at home. “You could say Rountree is in my blood, I guess,” he says. “We love it here.”
Number of homes 1,371
Median home list price $219,900
Average days on the market 80
Schools Rountree Elementary School, Jarrett Middle School, Parkview High School
A Focus on Families: Emerald Park
There’s no arguing that Emerald Park is a beautiful place. The streets are lined with gorgeous stone and brick homes, well-manicured lawns, blooming landscaping and plenty of trees in the background. The location is also prime, with a park, gym, grocery store, Sam’s Club, Harter House and access to Highway 65 all within a few-minute drive. And you can’t forget to mention the pool or tennis courts available to all the residents.
Robin Hall and her husband, Bryan, know this firsthand. The couple has called Emerald Park home for the last dozen years, and they’ve watched it grow. Robin has even helped many new families feel welcome with her role as the Children’s Social Event Coordinator. “I hand-delivered 343 holiday party invitations last year,” she says.
With crafts, gifts, food and an appearance of Santa and Mrs. Claus, this Christmas celebration is just one of a handful of annual events that take place here.
“We also have a huge spring party with an egg hunt,” Robin says. And fall in Emerald Park features another shindig, this time with a bounce house, pony rides, a petting zoo and hayrides.
The Halls have five kids, including 8-year-old Kendall and 10-year-old Karlee who still live at home, so they’ve had plenty of chances to take advantage of the kid-focused community. And this perk goes much further than the neighborhood-wide events. “We have a dry creek in our backyard where the girls love to play,” Robin says. “All of the neighbor kids like to go down there, too. Everyone is friendly. I just really feel that this is a great, safe neighborhood to raise kids.”
EMERALD PARK STATISTICS
Number of homes 355
Median home list price $459,999
Average days on the market 95
Schools Wilder Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Glendale High School
Photo by Brandon Alms. The paved walking trail at Phelps Grove Park is a popular spot for exercise.
Our Favorite Neighborhood Parks:
Explore three local parks that all play a huge part in the communities where they’re located. Bonus: If you don’t have your own neighborhood park to enjoy, you’re welcome to check these out!
1. Phelps Grove Park, Springfield
With playground equipment, lighted tennis courts, blooming gardens and plenty of grassy picnic areas, Springfield’s Phelps Grove Park is always buzzing with activity. The park also boasts a prime location situated not far from the Springfield Art Museum near National Avenue and within walking distance of several of Springfield’s picturesque centrally-located neighborhoods. Unlike many area parks, Phelps Grove is home to several majestic trees, which is a definite bonus, and it’s lined with a 7/10-mile walking trail that’s a great place to fit in some exercise any time of the year.
2. Cunningham Park, Joplin
Complete with basketball courts, a playground, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, a pond and a walking trail, Joplin’s Cunningham Park is the perfect spot for families to enjoy some fun in the sun. There are also grills, picnic tables and a pavilion here, so guests can bring their food and spend the day. It’s located at 26th and Maiden Lane and welcomes both residents who live nearby and plenty of guests.
3. Finley River Park, Ozark
Situated in a scenic grassy plot along the Finley River, Ozark’s Finley River Park is the perfect picturesque park to enjoy a sunny afternoon. The park is easily walkable for residents who live in Stone Ridge, Apple Creek and other surrounding neighborhoods, and it’s just a quick drive away for all other Ozark residents. With baseball fields, walking trails and three pavilions available for reservation, the riverside park is one of the city’s most happening hangouts.
Photo by Brandon Alms. The Howard family loves the many amenities of Ozark Heights, including its lake and walking trail.
A Nearby Escape: Ozark Heights
Every year around December 25, Stacy and Eric Howard’s home in Ozark Heights is among the brightest on the block. “The neighborhood has a Christmas light contest every year,” Stacy says. “My husband always gets really into it. He has won several years.”
This holiday contest is one of many reasons Stacy and Eric love living in Ozark Heights, where they’ve been since 2001. “Our first home here was a spec home,” Stacy says. After discovering the many perks of the neighborhood, which boasts some 160 beautiful brick homes, they decided to upgrade. “We built our own custom home here,” Stacy says. “Our house sits along the neighborhood lake.”
As president of the Ozark Heights Homeowners Association, Stacy is well informed of all of the neighborhood events. “We have an annual summer picnic at the neighborhood park,” she says. Home to a pool, tennis and basketball courts, a playground, a pavilion and a walking trail, this park is one of the neighborhood’s hotspots. “The trail goes behind our house, and we see people running and walking all the time,” Stacy says.
The fun continues on Halloween, when neighbors surprise one another with treats. “We’ll pass around a little bag of goodies along with a note that says, ‘You’ve been boo-ed,’” Stacy says.
In addition to the friendly community feel, the neighborhood has a prime location. “It’s in northwest Ozark not far from CC and 65,” Stacy says. “We can be on the highway within minutes.” But more than anything else, the Howards love that Ozark Heights is the perfect spot to raise their daughter, 11-year-old Kylie. “She has several friends who live throughout the neighborhood,” Stacy says.
OZARK HEIGHTS STATISTICS
Number of homes 160
Median home list price $347,400
Average days on the market 69
Schools Ozark West Elementary School, Ozark Middle School, Ozark High School
Photos by Brandon Alms. Impromptu block parties are one of many perks in the Olde Ivy neighborhood.
Front Yard Culture: Olde Ivy
Pull into the parking lot at Farmers Market of the Ozarks on a Saturday morning, and you’ll likely spot a golf cart or two filled with residents of Olde Ivy. “A lot of people in the neighborhood have golf carts, and they’ll cruise over to Farmers Park for the market,” says Layne McBride, who lives in the neighborhood with her husband, David, and their children, 2-year-old Oliver and 11-year-old Emma.
Golf carts puttering along the streets is just one of many charming things about this southeast Springfield neighborhood, which is currently experiencing a boom in construction. And it’s a place that’s becoming more and more known for its front yard culture. “Families here are always outside,” Layne says. If they aren’t hosting their neighbors for an impromptu barbecue, which Layne and David say happens regularly, you may spot an Olde Ivy family lounging at the neighborhood pool or walking to the nearby Springfield Nature Center. “We also have a natural spring behind our house,” Layne says. “The kids call it the river. They like to play out there sometimes.”
Many of the kids who live in Olde Ivy enjoy an annual Christmas party, a summer barbecue at the pool and a huge hayride every Halloween. And of course, there’s the regular outside playtime at many of the neighbors’ homes. “Several of us here are open to letting our kids walk to their friends’ houses in the neighborhood,” Layne says. David feels equally comfortable, and notes that the neighbors are the best part of the small Springfield community. “Our absolute favorite thing about Olde Ivy is the people,” David says. “We appreciate the feeling of having so many friends close by.”
OLDE IVY STATISTICS
Number of homes 106
Median home list price $482,450
Average days on the market 54
Schools Field Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Glendale High School
Photos by Brandon Alms. Michael and Natalie Mardis love raising their daughters in Springfield’s historic Midtown neighborhood.
Home to Historic Charm: Midtown
The historic Midtown district is Springfield’s largest nationally registered historic district. A lot comes with this title, including many beautiful historic homes and a nice variety of residents who have moved into them over the years. And this variety of residents is a favorite factor of Michael and Natalie Mardis, who moved into the area 10 years ago. “We knew from going to Drury that this is the area we wanted to live in, mostly because of the diversity,” Natalie says. “Our kids are both adopted and are different races than us. We wanted to be in an area where there are varying types of people with varying backgrounds. There are other families here who have adopted or have foster kids, and we love that.”
Now that the Mardises have lived in the neighborhood for a decade, they know all about its benefits, including a great location. “I can walk the kids to school or walk them home,” Natalie says. The couple’s older daughter, 8-year-old Stella, participates in swimming at Drury, and the family rides their bikes to her practices. “Most of the time when we’re riding, we run into people we know,” Natalie says. The family also loves spending time at nearby Washington Park.
Midtown has the active Midtown Neighborhood Association, and Michael is a member. “He helped with the neighborhood cleanup last weekend,” Natalie says. The association also plays a part in Midtown’s annual Victorian Christmas Homes Tour. From these very historic homes to the friendly folks who live in them, Midtown is a close-knit and charming community. “We love that everybody here has a different story,” Natalie says.
Number of homes 777
Median home list price $67,900
Average days on the market 93
Schools Boyd Elementary School, Pipkin Middle School, Central High School
Photo by Colby Moore Photography. With bustling streets and a happening nightlife, living downtown is perfect for those who prefer a lively lifestyle.
Urban Oasis: Downtown
After graduating from Drury University, Willard native Benjamin Hall moved to downtown Springfield and hasn’t looked back. He shares a loft at Oliver’s Garage with roommate Mat Stockstill, and he works as an architectural designer at Casey Architecture, a firm located on Park Central Square. “I moved here because it was so close to everything,” Benjamin says.
Benjamin walks to work every day, and he often walks to a variety of downtown businesses in the evening to meet up with members of For Burkina, a non-profit he belongs to. He regularly treks to Scotch & Soda, Falstaffs Local, Skinny Slim’s Public House and a number of other spots for a drink. He’ll take a stroll to The Coffee Ethic for a morning pick-me-up, and he has a standing brunch date at Springfield Brewing Company with his old friend Alex Wiley every Sunday. Hall even gets his hair cut downtown, goes to church downtown and goes to the doctor downtown. And he goes to the movies there, too. He walks nearly everywhere. “I love not having to use my car much,” Benjamin says. “During weekdays, I typically don’t drive at all.”
In addition to the fact that residents can get around on foot, downtown Springfield also offers friendly vibes. “In all of the places I go, I almost always know someone who works there, and I always know people who are hanging out,” Benjamin says. “Downtown definitely has a community feel to it.”
Because his loft building doesn’t allow college students, Benjamin is surrounded by many other young professionals, but he doesn’t have to go far for a bit of variety. “Downtown generally has a nice mix of people,” Benjamin says. “It’s really picking up on the college crowd with some new developments, and it has a strong creative and entrepreneurial culture as well.” And regardless of where he is, he likes the fact that he’s never really alone. “Living in a loft is very lively,” Benjamin says. “There are always people around you downtown. For me, that adds a safety net.”
Number of homes 418
Median home list price $145,000
Average days on the market 27
Schools Rountree Elementary School, Jarrett Middle School, Parkview High School
3 Ways to Make your Neighborhood Better
Looking to improve your neighborhood? Consider these three ideas, and you’ll be loving the camaraderie in your community in no time flat.
1. Get to know your neighbors
It’s impossible to enjoy a friendly chat over the fence if you don’t know the neighbor who lives there. According to research on
actionforhappiness.org, getting to know the people who live near you helps create a sense of belonging and shared identity and results in community trust and happiness. Whether they just moved in or they’ve lived alongside you for years, consider baking them a fresh batch of cookies, ringing their doorbell and asking for a lunch date upon delivery. Chances are, the happiness will spread from home to home, and you’ll be hosting a neighborhood block party before you know it.
2. Organize a Dinner Club
Residents of Millwood, Teresa and Ken Schwab meet up with a group of their close-knit neighbors for dinner every couple of months. “There are many social events we attend together as well, but we try to make our dinner club nights special,” Teresa says. In an effort to create a more intimate evening, the group takes turns hosting dinners in their homes and often greet guests with formal place settings, candles, multi-course meals and some special wine selections. If you want to start something similar yourself, Teresa suggests making it a priority, scheduling it far in advance and, of course, following through.
3. Be a Good Neighbor
The City of Springfield is all about creating great neighborhoods, and it shares many ideas for reaching the goal on its website (springfieldmo.gov). The No. 1 thing that it suggests is starting with yourself and being a good neighbor by keeping up with your home. No one wants a messy community! Make sure you are mowing and maintaining your yard often, and also be sure to trim your hedges and trees. Everyone wants to live in a clean, active neighborhood, but this can only happen if everyone pitches in. So don’t be the person who doesn’t!
Photo by Brandon Alms. Just minutes from busy Battlefield Road, Brentwood South is a charming east Springfield neighborhood where many of the children play together.
A Great Place for Kids: Brentwood South
Brentwood South is a hot neighborhood for several reasons, among them a top-notch location in southeast Springfield. Situated east of Glenstone Avenue, west of Lone Pine Avenue, north of Battlefield and south of Barataria Street, there is a plethora of shopping and restaurants right around the corner, and there’s even a walking trail that leads to Sequiota Park. It only takes a couple of minutes to get onto Highway 65.
This location is a favorite thing to many residents, including the Ahos, who are the new kids on the block. “We moved here a year ago,” says Carrie, who lives there with husband, Kyle, and children, 3-year-old Evan and 8-year-old Grant. But despite their short time in the area, the family is already head-over-heels. “We really wanted to buy a house that was in the Field school district,” says Carrie, who’s a teacher at Field Elementary. “We ended up here, and we couldn’t be happier about it.”
But they love it even more for all of the kids who live there. “A lot of people are saying that the neighborhood has turned over,” Carrie says. “There are younger people where there used to be older families.” Their oldest son, Grant, takes advantage of this. “His confidence has grown so much since being here,” Carrie says. “He is outside all of the time, playing with his friends, climbing trees, playing with NERF guns and running around,” Carrie says. “It’s exactly what I wanted him to be doing as a little boy. It’s priceless.”
The kids who live in Brentwood South are also the kids who Grant goes to school with, so it extends his connections even further. And Carrie and Kyle have made friends, too. “All of our neighbors have been so warm, caring and friendly,” Carrie says. They teamed up for some fun on Easter, when they joined a couple of neighbors in hosting an Easter egg hunt on multiple lawns. “There’s that kind of energy here,” Carrie says. “We want to make it magical for the kids. Everyone tries to contribute to that feeling.”
BRENTWOOD SOUTH STATISTICS
Number of homes 171
Median home list price $225,000
Average days on the market 39
Schools Field Elementary School, Pershing Middle School, Glendale High School
Photo by Chuck Travers. Lynn Brown and Dieter Beam sing a duet at Wednesday night karaoke, a weekly event in StoneBridge Village.
A Spot to Settle Down: Stonebridge Village
Dale Russell knew he wanted to live in a place where he could golf when he retired. Now that he lives at StoneBridge Village, a gated golf community in Branson with condos, townhomes and single-family residences, he enjoys much more than just teeing off on a regular basis.
“On Mondays we have Breakfast with the Stars, and on Wednesday nights we have karaoke at the clubhouse,” Russell says. He and his wife, Kay, partake in these social activities, as well as many others, most often with their many neighbors and friends. “We’ll also get together and play cards a lot.”
While StoneBridge Village is home to many retirees, Russell says it’s growing. “Most of our residents are retired—and many of them from out of town—but we seem to be getting more families that are moving in now, too,” he says.
The amenities at StoneBridge Village appeal to all age groups, with tennis courts, three swimming pools, a sand volleyball court, a basketball court and a fishing pond on the list of things to do here. “We have a little bit of everything,” Russell says.
And even more than its prime location, which sits next door to Silver Dollar City and is only a 10-minute drive from Table Rock Lake and 15 minutes from countless entertainment options, Russell says he loves StoneBridge Village for its strong sense of community.
“My favorite thing is that everybody cares about everybody here,” he says. “I was born and raised in Branson, and I have always lived in a way that neighbors take care of neighbors. That’s what happens here.”
STONEBRIDGE VILLAGE STATISTICS
Median home list price $142,000
Average days on the market 175
Schools Reeds Spring Elementary, Middle and High Schools