Historical Homes

See inside 315 N. Tenth St., a 1882 Italianate historic home

Everyone loves to take a peek inside someone’s house. Here’s your opportunity to take a look inside an 1882 Italianate-style home in Columbia, Missouri.

This house at 315 N. Tenth St., was once the home of Samuel H. and Isabel Smith Elkins. Today, it houses Village Glass works.

That’s why you can get this online peek inside. Here’s a link to a March 11, 2011 slide-show published in the University of Missouri student paper, The Maneater. The slide show is of photographs taken by Peter Yankowsky and it shows the home owner, Susan Fiegel, working with glass. You can take a tour of the house in person by visiting during business hours.


Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Historical Homes

No guarantee for historic homes: Demolition process explained

When a house is demolished, it always seems sudden. When it happens in your neighborhood or on our regular route, it can seem surprising or disorienting.

That’s what happened to Curtis Stafford, who has been working on the house at 303 St. Joseph for months. When 400 St. Joseph, in his neighborhood, was demolished, he called me because of my website columbiahistorichomes.com.

He’s now concerned that the house across the street from him, 308 St. Joseph, will be demolished.

Stafford knows houses aren’t demolished without due process. “I know you can’t suddenly wake up one day and tear down a house that you own,” Stafford said in an email. “My issue is that there is very little protection for historic homes.”

And is the house at 308 St. Joseph worth saving? Maybe, maybe not.

Sometimes people think a house should be saved simply because it is old. Stafford said that while the Boone County Assessor’s Office says his house was built in 1900, he said he’s found newspapers in the walls of his home indicating it was built in 1867. He also said the house at 308 St. Joseph was built around the 1870s, citing the State Historical Society for this information.

Those dates might be inaccurate.

Deb Sheals, a historic preservation consultant headquartered in Columbia, said, “Assessor’s records for construction dates are notoriously inaccurate for very old properties. It might be a starting point but certainly not a good source for a definitive date.”

However, if a building is one of those deemed a historical property, the Historic Preservation Commission has had developed a new interactive map that includes more accurate dates.

As for the house at 308 St. Joseph, Sheals said, “It’s cute, albeit in need of some attention.” She added, it has lost a few historic features and seems to be relatively intact, but would not be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places due to its many alterations.

However, she also notes, it “makes a nice addition to the streetscape.”

Streetscape is what can be destroyed when a house here and there on a street are destroyed. The way the street looks, the streetscape, is ruined. For example, St. Joseph Street already has some of this effect, with a couple of apartment buildings intermixed with the bungalow homes on the street.

That’s what has Stafford worried. He loves his neighborhood’s art vibe and the loss of a house tear at the fabric of a neighborhood. “I also think these two articles might explain why my neighborhood and I seem panicked.”



But for people who are concerned about demolitions in their neighborhood, here’s the process in Columbia, Missouri:

1.      The owner or the agent for the owner of the house fills out an online application. This application process is not to get permission, but mainly to make sure all the utilities have been disconnected so that a demolition does not create a public safety problem. Here’s a link to the form.

2.      When the application is filled out, the address and age of the structure is forwarded to the city of Columbia’s Planning and Development city planner staffing the Historic Preservation Commission.  The form also asks if the structure is in a historic district, a historic landmark or historically significant. Rachel Bacon, the city planner staffing the committee says she always double checks this information. (NOTE: As of October 1, 2011, the Planning and Development Department, the Office of Neighborhood Services, and the Public work’s Building and Site Development division, will be combined to form the Community Development Department.)

3.      Double checking the age of the building in some ways can be easy.

Boone County has an excellent search engine to find out about various characteristics of real estate. Here is how you can find out how old a structure is, the size and characteristics of it, the property owner and even the value of a building.

1. Showmeboone.com

2. Select Assessed Real Property Search

3. Obtain user name and password

4. Search by address or name.

4. However, as noted above, the assessor records are not always accurate for construction dates. If a building is one of those deemed a historical property, the Historic Preservation Commission has had developed a new interactive map that includes more accurate dates.

5.      To double check information provided on the Demolition Permit Form, Rachel Bacon often goes to see the structure in question, visually surveying it and even takes photographs, if warranted. If the structure is in a neighborhood with a Neighborhood Association, she typically contacts the head of that Neighborhood Association to let them know about a change in their neighborhood.

You can find out if there’s a Neighborhood Association in your area by going here.

6.      Any additional information Rachel collects, along with the demolition permit information is given to the Historic Preservation Commission, which has 10 working days to review the permit. The HPC cannot stop a demolition, but this 10-day waiting period gives the Commission an opportunity to contact the property owner and offer assistance or to suggest ways the structure could be saved. If the structure cannot be saved, either because it is too deteriorated or otherwise compromised to be saved, the Commission can request historic salvage rights. In that case, historic components of the building might be removed and stored for future uses. Examples of such items include doors, window frames, and so forth.

7.      There is no way the Commission – or the City Council – can prevent a structure from being demolished.

8.      The fee for the demolition permit has recently been increased to $50 for a residential structure and $100 for a commercial structure.

9.      The demolition permit does not require the property owner to disclose why the house is being demolished or to submit plans for what the owner plans to do with the property once the structure is removed.

Commercial Buildings

Historic buildings uses, owners change

The Missouri Theatre opened in 1928 and initially performances included music, a newsreel, cartoon, dancing and a feature film.

Then, over the years, the theatre’s functions changed, featuring only films for a time, then it nearly faced destruction in the 1980s.

This Sept. 11, 2011 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune outlines the many changes of the theatre and its owners.

From 1928 until today, the Missouri Theatre has had many owners as well. When it was named to the National Register of Historic Places, the building was owned by Shirley Stone Cox, according to the nomination form, which outlines the buildings notable features.

Now, the Missouri Theatre is leased by the University of Missouri-Columbia, with an option to purchase it at the end of the three-year lease agreement.

While historic buildings remain, their uses change with the times, but in this case, it seems the use will return to its multiple uses of its origins and its most recent use of a venue for performances, films and music, no longer just a movie theatre, its use from 1953-1983.



Historical Homes

You can nominate a home for historic status: Deadline Nov. 1, 2011

You can nominate your home or a home you admire for consideration for Columbia’s Notable Properties designation.

The deadline is Nov. 1, 2011. Having sat in on Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission consideration of such nominations, the nomination itself need not be elaborate.

Nor does the designation hamper a home owner from doing as he or she wishes to the property. It will not tie a homeowner to making future changes or prohibit a homeowner from changing the home. You may also nominate someone else’s home.

Instead, it is an opportunity to highlight the historic homes in Columbia. Here’s a notice published in the Columbia Daily Tribune on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011:


The notice states:

“Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission is taking nominations for the city’s Most Notable Properties for 2012. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 1.

“Properties need to be at least 50 years old, within city limits and have architectural or historical characteristics that contribute to the city’s social and/or aesthetic resources, according to a news release. The properties can be endangered, derelict, recently restored or nicely maintained.

“Submission materials can be downloaded by using the link on the city of Columbia’s homepage at www.gocolumbiamo.com/Planning/Commissions/HPC/index.php or by calling the Department of Planning and Development at (573) 874-7239.”

Historical Homes

Roots N Blues, ragtime and historic homes

It is no wonder Columbia is once again hosting the Roots N Blues N BBQ festival. This city has a long history with music.

Until 1927, J.W. “Blind” Boone lived at 10 N. Fourth Street. At the time, Boone was one of the world’s most famous musicians, according to the website of the J.W. “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation. “Along with Scott Joplin and James Scott, Boone made up Missouri’s Big Three, the most influential musicians in the state known as the home of ragtime, the precursor of jazz,” the site states.

Hear Boone’s music by going to this link. Today, the home is being preserved with plans under way for a garden and interior work. To help fund the project, go here.

Along with the music of this weekend, Columbia is filled with historic homes. Here’s an interactive map you can follow to see all of Columbia’s historic homes from the J.W. “Blind” Boone home on Fourth Street to the historic home sometimes called Confederate Hill or the Guitar Mansion at 2815 Oakland Gravel Road, once slated to become a bed and breakfast, but now once again a private home.


Historical Homes

Two homes saved, others in danger?

An article in the Columbia Missourian’s August 11, 2011 issue of Vox magazine highlighted two historic homes that were saved.

One of the houses featured is the John W. “Blind” Boone House at 10 N. Fourth St., set to become a museum.

The other is the Taylor House at 716 W. Broadway. Today it is a bed and breakfast.

In the case of the house on Fourth Street, the home was saved because it was the home of the famous ragtime musician John W. “Blind” Boone. Supporters saved the house for historic reasons. In the other case, the function of the house at 716 W. Broadway was changed but the home was saved. No longer a single family home, the beauty and integrity of this house lives on.

However, some homes do not survive. For example, where the Missouri Theatre now stands once stood a house occupied by the cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln. Few would argue we should have kept the house to forgo the development of downtown with a beautify movie palace such as the Missouri Theatre, which has recently been leased by MU.

Yet, a phone call tells another story. Curtis Stafford called me and identified himself as the owner of 303 St. Joseph, outraged that a nearby house at 308 St. Joseph is slated for demolition. I went to see the house. I don’t know whether it should be razed or not, but the loss of homes in the area could endanger the streetscape — the feeling — of the street. St. Joseph street is just a few blocks from Orr Street, where as Stafford put it, and the street has an “art vibe.” Stafford said, “These are great single family homes,” and he’d like to see the area remain as it is.

But not all old homes are worth saving.

I don’t know if this home is worth saving or not, but I do know that in Columbia, demolishing a historic home is not easy. All demolition requests are routed through Columbia’s Public Works Department. Requests to demolish an older home, older than 50 years old, are reviewed by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and if the house is deemed a significant property, the Commission works with the owners of the property to see if it can be saved.

For now, the house still exists. Should it be saved?