Caryl Belle MacMorran, daughter of Robert and Helen McClelland, was born in Chicago, IL on June 24, 1924. Caryl attended DePauw University in Indiana, and later studied art at what is now Missouri Southern State University. She married Robert D. MacMorran in 1944 and moved to Carthage in 1961. Throughout her 57 years in Carthage, Caryl was very involved in the architectural preservation of the “historic wonders around Carthage” as she lovingly called the many historic buildings in the community.
With the support of then Mayor Ray Carter, Caryl was a founding member of Carthage Historic Preservation, Inc. (CHP) in 1979, along with fellow Carthage Hero Bill Haughawout. They traveled to other historic communities to develop preservation plans for Carthage and invited experts to Carthage to share their knowledge. Caryl served as the first Coordinator for CHP, spending countless hours taking pictures and preparing extensive applications to successfully nominate 600+ properties in 3 districts in Carthage – Cassill Place District, Courthouse Square District and South Residential District – for the National Register. In addition to preserving the charm of Carthage, Caryl recognized the importance of historic preservation for the community’s economic development and heritage tourism.
Over the years, Caryl planned luncheons, workshops, educational meetings, programs for youth, house tours, walking tours, teas, calendars, and letter writing campaigns to raise awareness and funding for historic preservation in Carthage. As a board member of CHP, she helped facilitate the 1988 purchase of the Historic Phelps House, one of Carthage’s grandest homes and landmarks. Caryl wrote grants for preservation, helped bring experts to Carthage for preservation surveying, and even got hands on with several restorations of historic buildings in Carthage.
Caryl served on the board of CHP until 2010, and was also a member of Grace Episcopal Church and the Carthage Devotees Music Club. She was a board member of Spiva Center for the Arts and active with the Missouri Southern State University International Piano Competition. Caryl received a Citation of Appreciation from the American Businesswomen’s Association in 1980. In 2003, she was awarded the prestigious McReynolds Award by the Missouri House of Representatives in recognition of two decades of working to preserve Missouri’s heritage and historic treasures.
Caryl had 5 children, 7 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, and countless friends who are grateful she made historic Carthage her home. She died on April 2, 2018 and is buried in Park Cemetery.