Source: Bolivar Herald-Free Press

The City of Bolivar

Early settlers to this area had come from Bolivar, in southwestern Tennessee, which had been named after Gen. Simon Bolivar, the South American war hero.

In 1835, when the northern part of Greene County was created into a new county, the name of Polk was submitted by three brothers, John Polk, William C. Polk, and Ezekiel Campbell, in honor of their Grandfather, Ezekiel Polk.

After a suitable location for the county seat had been agreed upon, the brothers again submitted the name of Bolivar, the same as the name of their grandfather Polk in Tennessee.

Bolivar has existed as a city since Nov. 10, 1835. Bolivar was organized as a fourth-class city February 15, 1881.


Bolivar's museum was created and is maintained by the Historical Society of Polk County. The North Ward School Museum is located on the corner of North Main and Locust Street and is open Monday through Saturday. The Museum includes three floors of many artifacts and antiques and an authentic log cabin.

Admission is $2.00 for adults and .50 cents for children under 12.


The Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art opened in 1983 and is located at 511 N. Pike, across from North Ward School Museum. It is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 1-4 PM. No admission is charged.

The Bolivar Area Community Concert association provides 4-5 concerts yearly. Adult membership is $18.00 annually and may be used in Joplin and Springfield also. The concerts are presented in Pike Auditorium at Southwest Baptist University.


The Bolivar R-1 Public School District has a AAA rating, the highest given in Missouri. There are five public schools in Bolivar: Bolivar High School, Bolivar Middle School, Bolivar Primary School, Bolivar Intermediate School, and the School for Severely Handicapped.

Adult basic education classes are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the school year at Bolivar High School.

The College of Cosmetology offers a complete course in cosmetology, hairdressing, and manicuring.

Southwest Baptist University, located at Springfield Street and Aldrich Road is a liberal arts, co-educational university. It is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention. The academic program includes a School of Graduate Studies.


Citizens Memorial Hospital is a 74-bed hospital located at 1500 N. Oakland - Highway 83 north of Bolivar. The medical staff includes 23 physicians and dentists. Outpatient care is provided by several specialists. The hospital provides care for hospitalized patients, ambulatory outpatients, homebound patients and emergency care.

Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation includes a 111-bed skilled nursing care facility, residential care and a medical park. A new 60-bed skilled nursing facility was recently completed.


Bolivar is experiencing healthy economic growth with new industry, businesses, new housing developments and job market increases.

Bolivar's six banks have growing assets to support a growing community.

A new city hall and a new sewage treatment plant have been completed as well as a new airport facility. Accessible by air and freeways, Bolivar is the ideal setting for progressive business and industry.

Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce and its arm, PEP (Program for Economic Prosperity), is active in bringing new industry and business to Bolivar. The Chamber Office is open full time and offers assistance to visitors, new residents, and businesses. The office is located at 454 S. Springfield. The telephone number is (417) 326-4118.


Fishing, hunting, boating, and camping are all available to Bolivar area residents and visitors just 15 miles away at Lake Pomme de Terre to the North and Stockton Lake to the West. Just 30 miles to the North Truman Lake also offers unlimited recreational opportunities.

The Bolivar municipal swimming pool is open from June through August for classes and open swimming.

Bolivar living is enhanced by three public parks, Dunnegan Memorial Park is on the north side of Bolivar. It is equipped with pavilions, rest rooms, picnic tables, and playground equipment plus a small lake populated with ducks, geese, and peacocks. The Girl Scout Park is near the swimming pool. Newhart Park, the site of the Simon Bolivar statue, is located on S. Springfield and E. College.

Tennis courts adjacent to the swimming pool are open for public use. The courts at the high school and SBU are available to the public at limited times.

An new 18-hole golf course named Silo Ridge is now open east of Bolivar.  It is located south of Bolivar's new airport.

The Bolivar Recreation Commission, operated by the city, offers boys' and girls' baseball and softball, volleyball, tennis, basketball, and softball for adults, swimming, horseshoe pitching, soccer and other seasonal sports. Call (417) 326-3054 for more information.

Speedway USA, located just south of Bolivar, features seasonal races, For more information call (417) 532-2060 or (417) 326-3966.


Polk County Library offers a variety of services and is located at 1690 W. Broadway. It is open six days a week:

M,W,F: 9am-6pm
T,TH: 9am-9pm
SAT: 9am-4pm

The Southwest Baptist University Library is available for use by local residents.

Clubs & Churches

There are more than fifty clubs and organizations in Bolivar. The community is also home to nearly twenty churches of all faiths.

Annual Events

Several annual events take place in Bolivar.  An old-fashioned chicken barbecue and gospel music show is held in September.

The Celebration of Freedom, organized by the Bolivar Rotary Club, is an annual Fourth of July event. It includes a major fireworks display and patriotic program, held on the SBU campus.

A Gaited Horse Show sponsored by the Bolivar Rotary Club is also a part of Fourth of July festivities in Bolivar.

The Annual Country Days Rodeo is held the second weekend in July and an annual bull ride, the "Diamond S Bull Blast," is held the first weekend in August. An International Professional Rodeo that provides an evening of family entertainment.

Two runs are held annually. "Beat the Heat Run" is held in July and the annual "Polar Bear Run" is held in February.

The Polk County Junior Livestock Show and Youth Fair takes place the second week in July on the Polk County Fairgrounds.

Three annual parades are held in Bolivar, the Christmas Parade is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce on the second Saturday of December, Bolivar High School and Southwest Baptist University each host an annual homecoming parade.

The Festival of Christmas is a community worship service inaugurating the Christmas season. It is held the first Sunday evening in December on the SBU campus, co-sponsored by SBU and the Bolivar Ministerial Alliance. It is attended by overflowing crowds. Area churches and schools participate. An offering is taken to assist the needy in Polk County.

Senior Citizens

Senior Citizen agencies include the Polk County Senior Center located at 205 N. Pike. The phone number is (417) 326-5570. Programs offered by the Southwest Missouri Office of Aging are administered through the center.

The center also acts as a referral agency for seniors that need services from other agencies.

A Social Security representative is at the Polk County Courthouse on the third Thursday of each month.

City Services

Bolivar is governed by a mayor/council form of government with mayor and eight aldermen. Bolivar is the county seat of Polk County.


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