Annie Fisher home at 2911 Old Highway 63 South demolished

The 1920-era Annie Fisher house at 2911 Old Highway 63 South has been demolished, according to this Nov. 29, 2011 Columbia Daily Tribune article.

The house was a concrete reminder of black history. Annie Fisher built the house for a restaurant and catering service she operated. Born in 1867, Fisher had only a third-grade education, yet went on to build a thriving business.

As a Feb. 8, 1911 article from the University Missourian noted it a headline: ”Her Cooking Famed Throughout States.”  The article continued: “Mrs. Annie Fisher, Columbia Negro, Serves for the Best of Society. Owns silverware for 250. Chipped Potatoes, Beaten Biscuits and Fruit Cake Renowned Dishes.”

This is the second Annie Fisher to fall to the wrecking ball. A 15-room home she built earlier at 608 East Park Avenue was torn down in the 1960s as a part of a 1960s urban renewal project, according to 2009 Columbia Housing Authority document.

Both homes fell to changes in Columbia. The first home was destroyed during the city’s attempt at urban renewal. This house has for years been sandwiched between large apartment buildings and flanked by storage units. The two-story, window-filled building is owned by Merle and Charlotte Smarr, and the Columbia Daily Tribune article states they may expand their storage unit operation.

The Historic Preservation Commission named the house to the Notable Properties list in 2009.

Yet, even if this home, too, is demolished, the story of Fisher’s success and life will remain with us.

You can still see the house on a Facebook page dedicated to the Annie Fisher House Project includes a video tour of the home as well as historical documents.

There’s also a YouTube video on City Scope: Annie Fisher, Cateress of Columbia, narrated by Bill Thompson notes the house has 81 windows. Thompson says she put so many windows because she wanted the people eating at her restaurant to be able to look out at the beauty of Columbia and Boone County.

The house has had many champions, most recently Sheila Kitchen Ruffin, who in 2010 founded the Annie Fisher Project to save the home.

Historic home economics

This article mentions that historic homes are not available for economic support for renovations. The article is from a daily business magazine in Minnesota, but many of the same debates come up here in Columbia, Missouri, as well.

Many people don’t realize the historic building movement is a fairly new movement, stemming for the 1960s.

For more information, read the article at this link:

http://finance-commerce.com/2011/11/a-historic-debate-growing-about-preservation-rules/

Update on the historic Heibel-March Building

In October, the Columbia Tribune updated readers on the development — or rather the lack of development of — the Heibel-March Building. Built in 1927, once again the brick structure faces an uncertain future. The building was named to Columbia’s Notable Properties list in 2005.

Could the problem be no one has tried to put the building to work? As Deb Sheals, a historic consultant says, saving a building requires putting it to work. But several of the plans in the past had nonprofits trying to make the building fit in with their plans. Unfortunately, the last commercial plan for the building fell through when the developer died.

For now, the building is simply out of work and time is taking its toll.

Below is a newspaper article that outlines the history of plans for the building.

Oct. 23, 2011 — Plans for Heibel-March building stagnate — Columbia Tribune. Building at Rangeline and Wilkes Boulevard is still awaiting renovation. Several other plans to renovate the plans have fallen through.

Dec. 8, 2010, Historic Preservation Commission endorses Heibel-March purchase, Columbia Daily Tribune.

Dec. 7, 2010, Historic Preservation Commission votes to keep Heibel-March Building alive, Columbia Missourian.

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2010/12/07/historic-preservation-commission-votes-approve-legacy-constructions-offer-purchase-heibel-march-building/

Brick streets save money, add something priceless

Brick streets made their appearance in Columbia around the turn of the century, according to this Nov. 7, 2011 article in the Columbia Missourian.

The article further notes sources say that repaving and repair the city’s brick streets could save money. While brick paving and repair costs more, brick streets last roughly 85-90 years, while asphalt must be repaved or resurfaced every 10 to 30 years.

But there are so many costs not weighed in this comparison. When you look at historic areas, there’s something called “streetscape.” That’s how the entire street looks and feels; this is something that you cannot put a price tag on, it’s priceless. Having brick streets could contribute to the elusive, yet important quality of aesthetics.

For a chance to experience this sense of a streetscape, visit the areas where historic home neighborhoods are largely intact, including the ranch-style home dominated area of the Columbia Country Club, the East Campus area, and West Broadway.

The article includes the information that the company that did some of the brick paving, the J.A. Stewart’s Columbia Paving Company. Note, this company probably was that of Judge J.A. Stewart, who also platted the historic area on Broadway and created John Stewart Park, a private park for the area. By the way, Stewart ran a contest to name the park, and you can read about it here in a 1922 article in The Columbia Evening Missourian.

So what does this have to do with Columbia’s Historic Homes? If we lose bricks and homes, we lose part of our history.