Areas, Historical Homes, Resources - Reports

A 1994 view of East Campus

On Monday, Columbia City Council OK’d the creation of a new East Campus neighborhood association. But on this website, I like to look into the past.

Here’s a report from February 1994 that will let you take a peek at the past in the East Campus area. The document includes a 1931 map of the area and an explanation of how the area grew.

Below is a link to coverage of the July 16, 2018 city council meeting.

July 17, 2018 — Council approves new East Campus neighborhood association. Source: Columbia Missourian. Summary: City Council voted to recognized a new neighborhood association for the East Campus area. The new association is the East Campus Traditional Neighborhood Association, made up mainly of landlords. The older organization, the East Campus Neighborhood Association is an older organization made up mainly of homeowners, according to the article.

University of Missouri

Tree loss at MU’s historic Francis Quadrangle

Five pin oaks will be removed from MU’s main quadrangle. Here are three different reports on the loss of the trees. The trees are 60 years old, but should have lived until 80 to 100 years, but the soil and watering to support the grass led to the early death of the trees, according to the reports.

Don’t like MU spending money on trees instead of your favorite cause? The news release states the costs for the replacement of the trees will come from a special Mizzou Botanic Garden fundraising campaign. The trees will be replaced with native oak species.

Areas, Commercial Buildings, Tours

1978 look at Broadway, Seventh and Ninth streets

Miller Shoe Store, 800 East Broadway, courtesy the City of Columbia
800 E. Broadway in 2002. What was there before? A 1978 report will tell you. Photo courtesy the City of Columbia

Want to take a walk through the past? This 1978 historic survey report on Columbia’s buildings on Broadway, Seventh and Ninth streets and it reads like a walk through time, describing the buildings as they were in 1978 — and what they once looked like and what was there before then.

For example, the report on 720 E. Broadway, now Central Bank of Boone County, states the building once sported bronze doors.

The report goes on to state in 1889, the lot was home to a carriage factory and harness shop. Between 1889 and 1895, a three-story brick building on that spot housed “various smithys, groceries and lodge halls,” the report states. “In 1916 these two buildings were demolished for the present Boone County Bank.”

The report contains a page or two on each building on Broadway, some on Seventh and Ninth streets, pictures and citations to newspaper and other publications.

So download the report, print it out and if the weather ever cools down, take a walk through the past and try to see what was once there and what’s left behind.

Events, Get involved, Historic Hours, Missouri Preservation

Hate change? St. Louis event might change your mind

I’m going to admit it: I hate change. But an event set in St. Louis on Friday, July 20, 2018 has me rethinking my attitude.

From 5-8 p.m., a Missouri Preservation fundraiser will be held in the Arcade Building at 800 Olive St., in St. Louis, and the event will include rooftop views of the Arch, music, an open bar and appetizers.

Vacant for nearly 30 years, the former office/retail block is now an apartment complex with commercial space — with special appeal to artists.  The National Historic Landmark building includes more than 11,000 square feet of shared work and studio spaces including a “music and multi-media studio, and music practice rooms, ” according to the Arcade website.

One of the commercial residents is Webster University’s Gateway Campus. It occupies 54,000 square feet of the building, according to this Oct. 3, 2017 news release from Webster University.

Ideas for change in Columbia?

OK, so maybe I am learning to like change. Maybe you can, too. What kind of change like this would you like to see in Columbia?

Ready to get in the car?

This event is a fundraiser for Missouri Preservation, a nonprofit historic preservation organization. The cost is $30 for Missouri Preservation members and $40 for nonmembers. What do you get for this? The event will include tours of the award-winning renovated 1919 building called a “Gothic Revival skyscraper.” It also will include music performed by Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes, and an open bar and appetizers from Urban Eats.

Can’t go, but you still want to see it?

This June 6, 2018 post on the National Association of Home Builders site will give you a sweet peek. The NAHB awarded the Arcade Apartments with not one, but two awards.

In 2017, the Arcade was named the Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Award winner in the “Best Affordable Apartment Community (Over 100 units)” category, said Crystal Jackson of the NAHB via an email. Jackson is the association’s director of multifamily and 55plus housing.  She added, “The Arcade was also a finalist in the “Best Adaptive Reuse” category in 2017.”

Here’s a peek at the project as it was underway via this Dec. 23, 2015 article in the St. Louis Business Journal.

So what kinds of renovations for buildings would you like to see in Columbia? 




Cemeteries, Columbia College, Events, Sacred Spaces, Stephens College, Tours, University of Missouri, Women

MU’s first female journalism graduate portrayed

The late Mary Paxton Keeley spoke from the beyond through an event sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery.

Keeley, MU’s first female journalism graduate, said through this interpretive event she was on the steps in 1909 when Walter Williams opened the doors to the what is reported to be the world’s first School of Journalism.

She described her work at the Kansas City Post, as well as her teaching journalism and creative writing at Christian College, now Columbia College, and how she once bicycled through the streets of Columbia before her death at 100.

Other famous Columbia residents portrayed and videos of the performances were posted on the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery Facebook page.

Here are the names and links to the videos on YouTube:

Other portrayed were Victor Barth, Richard Henry Jesse and Robert Beverly Price

The scripts were written by Chris Campbell, executive director of the Boone County History and Culture Center. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery.

See the news coverage of the event for more information:

May 28, 2018 — Columbia Cemetery comes alive for Memorial Day, Summary: Re-enactors at Columbia’s oldest cemetery portrayed historical figures buried there including James L. Stephens, Victor Barth, Richard Henry Jesse, Mary Paxton Keeley, John Lange Sr., Robert Beverly Price and Brig. Gen. Oden Guitar. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery.

May 28, 2018 — Columbia residents learn when History Comes Alive, Columbia Missourian. Summary: Hundreds attended the second annual History Comes Alive event at the Columbia Cemetery.


Got questions?

Is there a historical fact or myth about Columbia, Missouri you’d like investigated? Is there a house whose history intrigues you? Did you ever wonder if there is a rhyme or reason to the way our streets are named?

If you ask, I’ll try to answer in upcoming blog posts. You can also subscribe to this website so you’ll get a note every time I update it.

Here are some questions that came from the full-house audience at the 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 19 presentation at the Columbia Public Library. The presentation, “Columbia’s Hidden History,” covered secrets and myths about Columbia’s history.

You can email me your questions or leave them in the comment box below.

Question: The presentation debunked the idea that the Guitar mansion at 2815 Oakland Gravel Road should have ever been called Confederate Hill. Or did it? I’ll be looking for proof via historic newspaper articles, a book written on David Guitar and other sources. Got ideas or proof either way? I’d love to hear about it!

Question: Some research shows that Nadine Coleman, a historic resident of what some call the “Fairytale house,” at 121 West Blvd., North, has connections to the historic home in Booneville, “Ravenswood.” Here’s more information on Ravenswood in a 1973 National Register of Historic Homes nomination form.

Question: Winterton Curtis, the man people claim testified at the famous 1925 Scopes trial (except he didn’t), wrote a book called  “A Damned-Yankee Professor in Little Dixie.” I’ll look into whether I can link to a copy of the book so you can read his account of life in Columbia and the development of the Westmount area, an area some refer to as the Old Southwest. He writes about the early 1900s, describing the streets becoming muddy traps, the start of the city’s utility and of a trolly bus system that served the Stewart Road area.

Question: Changed addresses and street names facts wanted. You might know that some streets of Columbia have been renumbered which is why the historic home of Laura Matthews, Boone County’s first court stenographer, is now numbered 206 S. Glenwood but was once 104 S. Glenwood. So when and why were the streets renumbered? And how do streets get their names? Is there any system and/or list of Columbia’s streets?

Question: People wanted to know if the Haden House had ever been a house and who lived there.

Question: Where did author John Williams live? Author of John Williams who received his doctorate in English from MU in 1954 wrote a book titled, “Stoner.” Originally published in 1965, it has been translated into French and in 2013 it was seeing a resurgence of interest in Europe, according to this Oct. 20, 2013 article in The New Yorker. So where did Williams live when he resided in Columbia?

Question: Missing metal house? An audience member asked about Columbia’s metal house. I’ve learned it was a Lustron, a steel house, and I’ll be searching to find out where it was, where it is now and what its history was.

Question: Where did the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen live? The scholar lived 1857-1929 and in Columbia from 1911-1917. One of his more well-known books was “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” and “Conspicuous Consumption: Unproductive Consumption of Goods Is Honourable.” Where did he live in Columbia?

Question: Log cabin? Some people mentioned that they’d heard the house at 1312 W. Broadway had a log cabin inside.

Here is information about the house provided by the City of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission:
“At the core of this late 19th century, house is a two-room log house believed to have been built in the 1840s.

“When the house was new, it was the center of a 150-acre farm on the western outskirts of Columbia. The original log house was probably built by Edward Camplin, a successful Boone County businessman who owned the property from 1828 to around 1848. The land and cabin had several owners in the late 19th century, including James and Mary Conley, who bought it in 1892. The Conleys built the present house around the original log house.

“E. B. McAllester and his wife bought the property in 1921. It served as their family home for many years and was later developed into a nightclub and restaurant called “Springdale Gardens,” after the springs that were located behind the house. Springdale Gardens was in operation in the 1930s and 1940s, and was described in a 1950s newspaper article as having been “a favorite dinner party spot for Columbians.” Historical sources differ on who developed the nightclub. It may have been done by the McAllesters, or by Mary Williams, who leased the property from them around 1938.

“By the 1950s, the Camplin House was in poor condition and threatened with demolition. In 1954, local architect Hurst John purchased the house and approximately 40 acres of the original farmland to the south. He made several updates to the house, and replaced an early one-story wrap around porch with the existing two-story front porch and columns. He kept an acre of land to go with the house and divided the rest of the property for the Spring Valley housing development.”

Again, send me your questions by email or in the comments below and I’ll answer them in the future.

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

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
  • 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?