Maplewood:14-foot walls, a $3 million heritage and a $14,400 grant

Fourteen-inch thick walls. Three gifts worth nearly $1 today. And now a $14,400 grant

Those numbers are part of the story of Maplewood, a 1977 historic home owned by the City of Columbia and managed by the Boone County Historical Society.

Maplewood was built by Columbia pioneer Slater Lenoir in 1877, the house has 14-inch thick brick walls. The house was a home for Lenoir’s child Lavinia Lenoir Nifong and her husband Frank Nifong from 1905 until their later years. Lavinia died in 1959, preceded by her husband in 1954.

You can look for those 14-inch thick walls if you like. The Boone County Historical Society offers tours by appointment Thursday – Sunday 12:30- 3:30 p.m. Special arrangements can be made for large groups. For information call 573-443-8936 or email at Chriscampbell@boonehistory.org

Where’s that $3 million?

The $3 million is a little harder to find.

The Nifongs also gave to two organizations what would total roughly $3 million in 2014 purchasing power dollars, according to a calculator on Measuring Worth.

In 1949, the Nifongs gave $100,000 toward a retirement home and in 1953, bequeathed another $100,000 for that purpose, for what now is Lenoir Woods. The Nifongs also gave what is now Boone Hospital Center, but was once Boone County Hospital.

“In 1953, the Nifongs gave $100,000.00 toward the construction of a wing, later named for them, at the Boone County Hospital. Finally, in 1953, the couple deeded the remainder of their farm to the Lenoir Memorial Home. Included in their gift were all the furnishings, antiques, works of art and memorabilia found in the house; all the associated outbuildings and contents; and all farm machinery and equipment,” states the National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Maplewood, which placed the house on the Register on March 13, 1979.

So now you know something that’s not easy to learn. Both the Lutheran Senior Services website that lists Lenoir Woods doesn’t reference the Nifongs, nor does the Boone Hospital Center.

Life moves on with $14,400

The City of Columbia has received a $14,400 grant from the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office. The city will work with the Boone County Historical Society, which operates the house to deal with water damage, structural concerns and electrical issues, according to the city publication, CitySource, Vol. 17, No. 5, May 2015.

Posted in Historical Homes, National Register of Historic Places, Notable Properties List

Lost Black history spotlighted on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Black history will be the brought back to life on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 with the unveiling of a marker to highlight a place that once existed — Sharp End — will be highlighted. From 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., members of the Sharp End Heritage Commission and city and state officials will mark the unveiling of a historic marker near the REDI offices on Walnut Street.

This once vibrant entrepreneurial area filled with black-owned businesses including barber shops, restaurants, taverns and other firms filled the 500 block of East Walnut Street, now home to the Columbia Post Office and a city parking garage, according to this May 17, 2015 article by Rudi Keller in the Columbia Tribune.

Why is this important?

This site ColumbiaHistoricHomes.com stems from a desire to save and reveal Columbia’s history. Once a person dies, his or her life story can fade. But when there’s a building, that story can be sometimes be found again. For example, few people know that an early woman journalist once lived in the house at 121 West Boulevard North — or that she’d nearly been given up to a wealthy Boonville, Missouri family.

That’s why Tuesday’s event is so important. It will bring back to life history and lives that can’t be highlighted through the buildings and homes, which are all now gone, except for a few notable exceptions, such as J.W. “Blind” Boone’s home, Second Baptist Church and St. Paul’s Church. The history of these buildings is highlighted in this National Register of Historic Places document.

Looking for more of Columbia’s black history? Here are several links:

Black History Lessons by Kevin Walsh, Inside Columbia, February 2015.

Interested in doing your own sleuthing on black history? I can’t wait to dig into this collection at the State Historic Society: Boone County Black Archives Collection. It includes information on the 1923 lynching.

Looking for a great read? Here’s a review of Gary Kremer’s recent book, “Race and Meaning.”

As for me, I’ll be at the event on Tuesday, when Columbia marks history that I’m grateful didn’t fade once the buildings were gone.

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Posted in Areas, Black History

Bungalows and local couple celebrated for historic preservation

The bungalow-studded neighborhood on Hubbell Drive and Lucy and Hugo Vianello will be celebrated at a free event set for 6:30 p.m. May 11, 2015, to highlight historic preservation in Columbia, Missouri.

The event, sponsored by Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission, will be held in the historic Missouri Theatre — the building that Hugo and Vianello are being honored for preserving and restoring. The 1928 theatre is at 203 S. Ninth St., Columbia, Missouri. It was modeled after the Paris Opera House and was designed by Boller Brothers, according to this University of Missouri website.

This May 11, 2015 article in the Columbia Missourian outlines the homes and the contributions of the Vianellos.

Each year, the Historic Preservation Commission honors people and places of historic significance.

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/a/188617/historic-preservation-commission-recognizes-hubbell-drives-1920s-bungalows/

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Posted in Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Historical Homes, Notable Properties List

Things that go bump in the day and the night

Interested in what you can’t see? That’s what you’ll learn about at these free downtown historic walking tours, with the first one slated for July 31, 2014. Given by members of the Historic Preservation Commission of the City of Columbia, the tours will focus on what you can — and can’t see.

All four of the upcoming tours start at 7:30 p.m. at the “Key” at City Hall at Broadway and Eighth Street. The first tour will cover Columbia’s brick streets, but not the part you can see. The other walks include an August 14 walk to view Columbia’s historic hotels and theatres, the Sept. 18 event will cover downtown worship centers and Oct. 30, the last walk, will take a look at places where ghosts and other scary tales lurk.

For the walk on Thursday, Patrick Earney, HPC member and project engineer at Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw, Inc., will discuss the engineering under and around the brick streets of Columbia, Missouri.

What? Who cares? You should. Many of these streets are more than 100 years old and while they’ve lasted, those dips and ridges that make your car go bump in the day and the night when you drive on them are due in some cases to the poor foundation under the bricks.

As Earney noted in an email, “The take away for the average person is that a street laid 110 years ago is still viable and would still be performing well had they been maintained.”

There’s another value said Earney, one that not every one would recognize at first glance or first drive.

“Each brick was touched by at least two people — he who made it and he who installed it. They’re not all the same, and the rows aren’t exactly straight. There’s a human element to a brick street that another street pavement doesn’t possess,” Earney wrote in a recent email.

In this day and age of disposable, manufactured items, a hand-made, crafted item can hold value for those who see it.

Wonder where those brick streets are? Here’s a map that shows where they are exposed and hidden.

Map showing brick streets, covered and uncovered and the core area of concern. Historic Preservation Commission map used with permission.

Map showing brick streets, covered and uncovered and the core area of concern. Historic Preservation Commission map used with permission.

Are those bricks or bucks under your feet?

Just as important, these brick streets may end up costing — or saving — you money some day. Proponents of brick streets cite the fact that they last. Remember the part above that mentioned some of them are more than 100 years old? Advocates for spiffing up and even uncovering some of the brick streets say the reason they were covered during the 1960s and 1970s is because they weren’t maintained. They also point out that asphalt streets must be repaved every 15 or so years, making the apparent savings of covering brick streets instead of repairing them a false frugality over time.

On the other hand, some people point to the cost of repairing the brick streets, pointing out that when the brick street were laid, labor costs were a fraction of today’s costs. Repaving using bricks calls for craftsmen and craftswomen, not just rollers.

Like it or lump it, on March 17, 2014, the City Council passed a Brick Streets Policy Resolution PR 229-13 that says the city will not remove covered or exposed brick pavement within a “Core Brick Street Zone,” and may be given a budget to uncover some brick streets over the next 20 years, “after a successful demonstration project.”

Brick streets good or bad?

What? Not a fan of brick streets. Well, you are not alone. Some folks decry the bumpy ride they provide, while others point to that same rumbling road as a good thing. A city document cited a case study of Winter Park, Florida that showed traffic fell on one of the main brick streets by nearly one-third from 8,500 to 6,000 cars ,with the average speed taking a nosedive from 41 mph to 29 mph after a 1996 brick street restoration. That’s called traffic calming and it can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective.

Others complain that spending money fixing or uncovering brick streets is a waste just for the sense of place and historic ambiance. That view is countered, of course, by those who say brick streets can save money in repaving costs.

But whether you are for or against brick streets, here’s a chance to learn more for free and find out why you might want to care about the part of the brick street you can’t see.

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Posted in Areas, Brick streets, Churches, Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Events

Fish, Eugene Field and a spring named Rollins

Got a damp spot in your yard? I do and I often wonder if it is a spring.

Perhaps it’s a historic site. There’s a spring now marked in an fairly obscure spot at Providence Road and Mick Deaver Drive and it’s mentioned in a 1991 article by Frances Pike of the Columbia Daily Tribune. He wrote a series titled, “Whatever happened to …” and on July 28, 1991, the topic was Rollins Spring.

Pike outlined the history of the spring which was on land owned by James Rollins who sold to the University of Missouri in 1870 for the agriculture farm. What? Never heard of the agriculture farm or the spring? That’s because the spring is no longer a popular spot for college students to hang out and today is little spot off a trail on the other side of the road from Research Park.  To save it from obscurity, in 2011, it was cleaned up and planted with native Missouri plans and dedicated to Missouri athletes. Take a peek at an outline of its history here.

The information from the site of the Mizzou Botanic Garden notes that at one time area was fenced off for an experiment in pasturing cows, but the students who loved to gather there for a picnic beat down the fence and let those cows escape, ruining the experiment.

In frustration, the agriculture dean tried to fill in the spring. Twice. He gave up.

But the history of that spring’s treachery involves more than that. In 1879, there were plans to turn it into a fish hatchery. Except when officials came to inspect the area, the spring ran dry. The plans were scuttled and in a few days the spring was running again.

The spring has another claim to fame as well. The 1991 Pike article quotes a poem by Eugene Field, of Little Boy Blue and Wynken, Blynken and Nod fame. Field attended the University of Missouri in 1869, and like Brad Pitt, he did not graduate from the university. Instead, he went on to fame as a poet and a journalist. The poem he wrote about Rollins Spring refers to the flow there as “Adam’s ale … From the spring they say will never fail.”

So we’re lucky the dean was unsuccessful in filling in the spring, because that probably saved this history from getting lost, but sometimes I wonder if that place that wet spot in yard is a spring … or a historic site.

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Posted in General

The history behind The Blue Note building

Yes, you’ve heard right: Richard King is selling The Blue Note at 17 N. Ninth St. But this former “movie palace,” won’t be going the way of other movie venues in downtown Columbia, Missouri. These two articles, “Richard King sells The Blue Note, Mojo’s,” and “Richard King passes torch, sells The Blue Note, Mojo’s.

The live music venue is being purchased by Matt Gerding and Scott Leslie, who will maintain its purpose and vibe.

Important for more than the most recent 34 years of great music, The Blue Note is part of downtown theatre history. Don’t let anyone tell you the building started out as vaudeville theatre. Built in 1927 by Tom C. Hall, it was once The Varsity Theatre and it showed movies from then until the 1960s, according to this National Register of Historic Places document on the North Ninth Street Historic District (Downtown Columbia, Missouri MPS) (map [see note]), 5-36 North Ninth St., Columbia (1/21/04).

This report refers to the building as one of the largest and newest buildings in that district. It was built at a cost of $100,000, or $1.3 million in today’s purchasing power, according to Measuring Worth, a website that gives comparative, historic values. It was designed by Boller Brothers of Kansas City, according to Debbie Sheals, author of the NRHP document. She notes it was the third movie theatre on that block and the second on that exact spot. The Star occupied that space previously and was also owned by Hall and it either burned or was razed.

But The Star isn’t the only theatre missing from downtown Columbia. By 1930, Ninth Street offered 3,591 theatre seats in a city of roughly 15,000. In 2010, Columbia had 4,227 seats for a population of roughly 100,000. Prior to television and now Netflix, people went to the movies much more often, according to this 2010 article, “Capturing Columbia’s Cinema Century,” in the Columbia Business Times.

Here is a list of some of Columbia’s missing theatres:

Haden Opera House: 1884-1901, destroyed by fire. Showed the first film in Columbia in 1897.

Airdome at Tenth & Walnut.

Columbia Theatre at 1103 E. Broadway. The interior was destroyed by fire and the first floor remains as a law office.

The Uptown on Broadway is now a retail space.

The Elite at 13 N. Ninth St.

The M Theatre at 8-10 N. Ninth St.

The Columbia Broadway Drive-In Theatre, where Gerbes is on Broadway now.

The Biscayne III on Stadium, where the Shoppes at Stadium are now.

The Columbia Mall 4, close to where Barnes & Noble is now.

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Posted in Commercial, Commercial Buildings, National Register of Historic Places, Notable Properties List

It’s a park, it’s an airport, it’s a Stephens training location

All history can become hidden, but it is sometimes it seems especially true for women’s history.

This Stephens College blog post article spotlights a sign that was discovered during a demolition of an old building at Cosmo Park that revealed a bit of women’s history that probably has been nearly forgotten.

The post outlines the history of Cosmo Park, which started out as a private airport owned by the Allton brothers, who then sold it to the City of Columbia for the Columbia Municipal Airport. The runways were turned into some of the roads in the park. But from 1941-1960, the post notes, the Columbia Municipal Airport was also the home of the “Stephens College Aviation Department,” as the newly uncovered sign shows.

Do you know of any other uncovered history?

In this case, the history will now be saved. The sign will be removed and preserved until a use can be determined.

Have you found any hidden history like this and found a new use or a new way to display it?

Please leave a comment if you’ve found hidden history of women — or men — and share how you’ve reused it.

Here’s the link to the originial article: http://www.sc-scene.com/2014/06/aviation-sign-uncovered-at-columbia.html

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Posted in Stephens College

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