Events, General, Get involved

Research resources

Researching history can be fun and here is a resource list to help you get started, as I promised everyone who turned out for the Columbia’s Hidden History talk at the Columbia Public Library at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19.

Don’t forget you can send me your suggestions for research and myth busting at dobrien387@gmail.com

Some important things about research:

  • This is not a definitive list. You’re never done learning and I’m not either. If you have a source or resource you’d like added to the list, just email me at dobrien387@gmail.com.
  • If you want to access the resources at the Boone County Historical Society, The Genealogical Society of Boone County, the MU Archives, the Missouri State Historical Society, call ahead to make sure the archivist or librarians there will have time to help you and/or the organization is open.
  • Remember, it’s OK to ask for help and people at these organizations want to help people do research whether you’re an average Jane or Joe or a journalist like me.
  • Most important — just do it. The worst thing that could happen to you is you’ll become addicted to historical research and what’s so bad about that?

 

Events

History and the Loch Ness monster

A few years ago I visited Loch Ness in Scotland. Yes, I wanted to see Nessie. In fact, I had kind of hoped there might actually be a Loch Ness monster.

But in Loch Ness, I learned that the people who said they’d seen the Loch Ness monster had many years ago admitted it was just an elaborate hoax.

So what does the Loch Ness monster have to do with Columbia historic homes?

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19 at the Columbia Public Library I’ll be giving a presentation busting some the myths about Columbia’s historic homes and revealing some of Columbia’s hidden history. I’ll also show how I found the information and will offer a resource sheet in case you want to do your own detective work.

What myths would you like investigated? What kinds of hidden history are you interested in? I’m still working on setting up my presentation so there’s still time to weigh in.

Get involved, Missouri Preservation

You can help save history

Each year, Missouri Preservation announces a list of buildings that are in peril of being lost. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 31, 2018.

You can be the eyes and ears of Missouri Preservation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Missouri’s unique architectural and historic landmarks.

No need to be an expert. The form is easy to fill out and you can download it here.

Why get involved? If you’ve ever driven by something and wondered what happened to the building that used to be there, you’ve experienced a loss of our history. Sure, not every building deserves to be saved, but we all know the lyrics about tearing down paradise to put up a parking lot.

Location and timing matters

In 2010, a view of 2911 Old 63 S., Annie Fisher home, demolished 2011.
In 2010, a view of 2911 Old 63 S., Annie Fisher home, demolished 2011.

Sometimes a building ends up being demolished because it’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s what I like to think caused the loss of the Annie Fisher’s house on 2911 Old 63 South. The grand building was once the site of Fair Oaks, the restaurant of Annie Fisher, one of Columbia’s first African-American businesswomen. Learn more about Fisher here, including information on the houses she owned that still exist, via this article by the Columbia Tribune published May 20, 2015.

When she operated her business there, it was in the countryside of Boone County. Then Columbia grew and the house was zoned commercial and with a storage operation next door, few people wanted the huge house with all those windows that Fisher loved so much because they allowed her to see the beautiful countryside. The house was demolished in 2011, according to this Columbia Tribune article published Nov. 29, 2011.

Fisher’s home is gone but others don’t have to follow it. Nominate a building or place to Missouri’s Historic Places in Peril by Aug. 31, 2018 to give an old building a chance.

Background on Places in Peril

Originally called Most Endangered, the Places in Peril started off in 2000 as a media campaign designed to highlight endangered buildings. In 2015, the program was rebranded Places in Peril. As the Missouri Preservation website states, “Once the historic resource is gone, it’s gone forever. By publicizing these places we hope to build support towards each property’s eventual preservation.”

Start looking — Aug. 31, 2018 will be here before you know it.

Events, Missouri Preservation

Apply now! Preservation conference scholarships available until April 9 close of business

I wanted to headline this as free money because it sounds so exciting to me.

Turns out there are 10 scholarships still available for the 2018 Missouri Preservation Conference set for May 2-4 in Sedalia. You have until the end of business on Monday, April 9 to apply. Go here to find the link to the application.

Here is all the info on the conference itself.

So what’s included? 

This is a $280 value. According to a recent email from Missouri Preservation the scholarships will cover “registration, meals, snacks, field sessions and networking opportunities, and … reimbursement for hotel expenses for the three-day conference.”

The scholarships are available to any citizen within a Certified Local Government (CLG) and g

uess what — Columbia’s included. Here’s a list of all the CLGs.

OK, I’m going to be honest here. The application notes that first preference is for preservation consultants, commissioners and local preservation staff members but it also includes citizens so I say go for the scholarship. I’m going to apply myself because nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

So why should you go?

dianna2-001I don’t have to tell you what thrills me. I’ve been blogging about historic places for eight years, so this workshop caught my eye: “House story: How to Research Sites and Structures.” But the three-day conference is filled with presentations ranging from working with real estate agents to engaging public investment and protection.

If those presentations aren’t enough to get you to Sedalia, the keynote speaker is Briana Grosicki, of PlaceEconomics. It’s a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that, as the website states, “works at the nexus of economic and historic preservation.” Now who isn’t concerned with money these days? She’s the head of research at PlaceEconomics, so she’ll be talking facts and figures, not opinions and wishes.

Gotta go and make out my application for a scholarship! See you in Sedalia?

CoMo200, Events

CoMo is turning 200!

Guess what?! Columbia, Missouri and Boone County, Missouri will soon be celebrating 200 years! Columbia, Missouri was founded first as Smithton in 1818, then moved a few blocks east and renamed Columbia in 1821. Boone County was founded in 1820, according to the Boone County Government site.

To plan festivities to mark the bicentennial,  Columbia Mayor Brian Treece has appointed a Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning. The task force Brent Gardner, Pat Fowler, Nate Brown, Dr. Eryca Neville, Dr. Anne Deaton, Chris Campbell, Tom Mendenhall, Deb Sheals and Ann Rogers.

The next meeting of the task force will be at 7 p.m. on March 28, 2018, in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 South Providence. Here’s the agenda, which includes a link to a draft of the minutes of the last meeting, background materials and a list of festivity ideas.

The meeting is open to the public, but Task Force Chair Brent Gardner said the main purpose of these first few meetings is to get organized and educated.

Goals for the celebration 

While the task force is still getting organized, three goals were set at the group’s first meeting on Feb. 28, 2018.

  • It will be inclusive of all of Columbia, said Gardner — the wealthy, those without money, young, old, black, white, immigrants — everyone.
  • The second goal of the celebrations to be planned is that they will indeed be celebrations, fun and entertaining.
  • The third goal, said Deb Sheals, Gardner’s co-chair, will be to leave a mark, to create some kind of enduring item. As Sheals put it, she wants to give CoMo a “big, fat present for turning 200.” That “present” could be anything from creating lesson plans for grade and high school children to a piece of artwork in the Flat Branch area, which is where Columbia got its start.

At the inaugural meeting, ideas sprang from every member of the group along with ways about how to approach celebrating the city and county’s 200 years. Should the celebration revolve around 200 amazing Columbia people? Or should the festivities mark an accomplishment for each of the 200 years being marked? Should there be contests? An official coin or stamp? A memorial book?

How to get involved

The task force is working on creating a website portal where, as task force member Pat Fowler put it, people can read along with the task force members as it gathers information and educates itself.

There is a proposal to create a Facebook page and dedicated emails for the task force members to the public can contact them.

For now, the meetings of the task force, like all governmental meetings, are open to the public. The meetings will be held in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road. The meeting schedule can be checked on the city’s calendar here.

Here is the schedule of the meetings:

    • April 25
    • May 23
    • June 27
    • July 25
    • Aug. 22
    • Sept. 26
    • Oct. 24
    • Nov. 28
    • Dec. 26

Who is on the task force?

  • Brent Gardner, chair,
  • Pat Fowler, Historic Preservation Commission,
  • Nate Brown, MU’s Reynolds Journalism Institute,
  • Dr. Eryca Neville, Columbia Public Schools
  • Dr. Anne Deaton, University of Missouri
  • Chris Campbell, Boone County History & Culture Center
  • Tom Mendenhall, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Deb Sheals, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Ann Rogers
  • Amy Schneider, City of Columbia staff liaison
Uncategorized

CoMo’s hot dog-historic home connection

Columbia has a connection with a hot dog of a historic home in Evanston, Illinois — a long way from here even in a Weinermobile.

Here’s the connection: The Oscar Mayer plant of Kraft Heinz opened in 1985, according to this March 8, 2018, article in the Vox magazine of the Columbia Missourian. The plant made 161 million pounds of hot dogs in 2017 and employed 482 workers.

That’s a lota hot dogs!

A $2 million house connection to CoMo

This $2 million historic home was once home to Oscar Mayer Sr., the son of the founder of the meat-processing and weiner-making firm. The six-bedroom house in Evanston, Illinois was featured in the “What you get for $2 million,” section of New York Times on March 18, 2018.

Oscar Mayer Sr. lived in the home up from 1927 until his death in 1965. As president of the firm from 1928 until 1955, he took the company from $4 million in sales to $300 million in sales, while the workforce grew from 200 workers to 8,500. Here’s more information about him via his NYTimes obituary from March 5, 1965 here.

You can take a peek here inside the three-story, Victorian brick, 7,401-square-foot house.

You might want to snap it up at its current price. Newly renovated in 2016, it was listed at $2.95 million, according to this article in Curbed.com, an online shelter publication. This link lets you see it after the renovation, unfurnished.

CoMo’s hot dog connection

The local Oscar Mayer plant on Waco Road is the only Kraft Heinz plant that just makes hot dogs, according to this March 8, 2018, article in Vox magazine of the Columbia Missourian covering 200 years of Columbia’s history.

The article states the plant opened in 1985, employs 482 people and made 161 million of hot dogs in 2017. It’s one of CoMo’s largest employers and donates 60,000 hot dogs to the Central Missouri Food Bank, the article notes.

But the hot dog business has had its challenges here CoMo

In 2015, the Oscar Mayer plant won a tax break from Columbia taxing authorities.

But first, some background. By 2015, the Oscar Mayer plant harkened back to the first Oscar Mayer in name only.

The hot dog processor was owned by Kraft Heinz. The changes in ownership had started in 1971, when Oscar Mayer merged with Kraft in 1971, according to the Oscar Mayer website.

In 2015, Kraft and Heinz merged, resulting in North America’s third-largest food and beverage firm with $28 billion in annual revenues, according to this July 8, 2015, Columbia Missourian article.

The merger wasn’t all good news for Columbia.

Analysts expected the new firm to cut workers and costs, according to this March 22, 2015 Reuters article embedded in the July 8, 2015, Columbia Missourian article.

The new hot dog plant owners threatened to move operations elsewhere and wanted a 75 percent break in personal property and real estate taxes on a proposed $100 million upgrade of new equipment and addition, according to the July 8, 2015, Columbia Missourian article. The rest of the firm’s taxes would be unaffected by this agreement.

The article points out that even with this tax break, Kraft Heinz would cut about 50 workers due to the new and improved equipment.

Local taxing authorities agreed that some jobs were better than losing the 400 jobs and agreed to the 75 percent tax break on the project, as reported in this July 10, 2015, Columbia Missourian article.

Still, CoMo has a connection to the house in Evanston. The local plant is still making hot dogs and the Oscar Mayer house has been renovated and is up for sale.

 

Black History, Sharp End

I never get tired of this

One of the best things that happened in Columbia was when Sharp End was marked. Here’s a 2015 video about the marking of this economic and social heart of Columbia, which was lost due to urban renewal and some misguided policies.

I never get tired of watching this video about Sharp End, an area of Fifth and Sixth Street and Walnut Street!

The Sharp End Heritage Committee should be lauded over and over. Thanks to all who made this happen including James Whitt, Larry Monroe, Sheon Williams, Kenny Green, Mary Beth Brown, Mike Brooks.

I’m sure I’m many names. Fill me in!