Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Events, Historical Homes

This gives power to the people

If you own a historic home — or just an old house like I do — and you are all thumbs like I am, here’s your chance to get help for you and your house.

The City of Columbia just received a grant to put on workshops that will help homeowners learn the ins and outs on renovating homes with sessions planned to cover windows, paint and flooring.

Want to find out when the dates are set for this upcoming seminars? The Historic Preservation Commission has a Facebook page.

Why renovate older homes? This article, City gets state grant to conduct historic preservation seminars, in the March 31, 2014, a report is cited that each year, 2,400 tons of waste goes into the city’s landfill from the demolition of historic buildings.

That’s $108,048 a year, using a cost of $45.02, the average price of disposing of a ton of waste in U.S. landfills according to the Waste Business, an industrial research analysis site.

So renovating a home can save the city some money and since we all pay the environmental and tax costs of operating landfills, these classes will save all of us some money. So what is your biggest home renovation challenge? Windows? Paint? Flooring? For me, the biggest challenge has been knowing where to start, what I could tackle on my own and when to get help.

Here’s to hoping these seminars touch on that, too.


Apartments, Churches, Historical Homes, Stephens College

Do you think Columbia is an architectural wasteland?

William Bernoudy – student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Eero Saarinen – architect of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Boller Brothers and an Paris opera.

These are just a few of the names and reasons cited to dispel the idea that Columbia, Missouri is an architectural wasteland. In case you missed this article by Morgan McCarty in the November 2013 issue of Inside Columbia. The article, “Columbia, The Beautiful,” outlines the architectural finds in Columbia.

I know. I know. We live in the Fly-Over Zone — the area of the country folks from the East and West Coast fly over, only to ask us where we live again and again, sometimes mixing up Missouri with Montana. It is after all, one of “those” M states “out there.”

But sometimes we ourselves perpetuate that myth, perhaps to keep the gem of Columbia to ourselves? I’d love to hear your comments.

At any rate, this article describes the architectural importance of these nine Columbia sites:

  • 1844 Cliff Drive, built by William Bernoudy.
  • 709 West Broadway, designed by Ludwig Abt, also the architect for Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
  • Stephens College Firestone Baars Chapel, designed by Eero Saarinen. Your friends from the East have likely flown past his other claim to fame, the Arch in St. Louis.
  • Missouri Theatre on Ninth Street, one of the few remaining “movie palaces.” The article reports the theatre’s design was inspired by he Paris’ historic Opera Garnier. No need for a long flight to enjoy this beauty, instead, we get to enjoy its 1,000-plus space and newly renovated interior at events scheduled by the University of Missouri, the owner of this 1928 theatre.
  • Memorial Union at the University of Missouri. The article states the combination of two kinds of masonry give it the look of “a Gothic ruin instead of a modern monument imitating a medieval building.”
  • Belvedere and Beverly apartment buildings, designed by Nelle E. Peters. Peters was one of the first women architects, according to this information from the State Historic Society. If you feel like a drive, her work can be seen in the “Literary block,” on the west side of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Each apartment is named after a famous author including Mark Twain. Or you can drive down Hitt Street and see her work and even get a peek inside at this website for the both the Belvedere and Beverly apartments.
  • 716 John N. and Elizabeth Taylor House, once a bed and breakfast, it is once again a home. It is in Columbia’s first subdivision, Westwood.
  • Jessie Hall and the Columns, said to be one of the most photographed spots in Missouri.
  • 509 Thilly Ave., an American Craftsman Foursquare.

If these architectural gems aren’t enough for you to cast away those ideas about Columbia as an architectural backwater, what kinds of attractions do you think would make Columbia a bigger draw for our East and West Coast friends — or do you want to keep Columbia our little secret?

I’d love to hear about the sights and sites you’d like spotlighted.

Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Events, Notable Properties List

Seven reasons to skip this event marking historic places in Columbia, Missouri

You may want to skip this free event set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at Columbia’s historic Daniel Boone Lobby at 701 E. Broadway.

Below I list seven reasons not to attend this reception and presentation marking the honoring of five Columbia properties as Notable Properties by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. Since 1998, the HPC has been honoring historic properties to highlight their historic importance, sometimes as an attempt to save the building or location from being lost. This year, the five properties being honored are: Fairview United Methodist Church, Fairview Cemetery, Lee School, Francis Pike House and the Bessie and Dr. J.E. Thornton House.

In case you ignore these seven reasons not to attend, organizers are requesting those planning to attend to RSVP by Monday.The reception begins at 6:30pm in the lobby of the Historic Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway. The recognition program will begin at 7 pm. RSVPS are appreciated.

And if you are planning on going, I’d love to hear from you. Have you attended past events? Why are such events a draw for you — or why have you skipped in the past or are planning on giving it a no-go this year?

1. The event is a free celebration of Columbia’s history. Founded in 1821, Columbia’s Notable Properties include houses from 1827 to 1959, highlighting the city’s history from its pre-Civil War agricultural days to recent history with its economy based on medical care, insurance and education, industries said to give the city a near-recession proof economy. Properties named to the Notable Properties List have included churches, commercial buildings, even a mule barn. The requirements are that the buildings must be older than 50 years old and highlight a historic event, person or place. The designation does not include any restriction on future development or use.

Knowing the city’s history, however, gives people a greater appreciation of our past and hence our present. It creates connections where once none existed. For example, Lee Elementary School, honored this year, demonstrates a connection to the Civil War and the country’s Great Depression and federal efforts to help us dig out of that financial abyss.

So who wants to know that kind of positive history? If you do, like I do, then attend the event.

2. The event offers a free celebration with food catered by Bleu Restaurant and Wine Bar, a downtown location that consistently gets high rankings at TripAdvisor. The restaurant is ranked 37th in Columbia, Missouri attractions, so Tuesday night will give you an opportunity to try the food for free. Who wants that — well, anyone who enjoys good food I suppose. I’ll be there enjoying the Bleu offerings.

3. Lee Elementary School at 1208 Locust St., will be added to the list of Notable Properties. The school educates about 300 children in grades K through 5. It’s a school with an emphasis on arts today, and the history of the building began in 1904 when it was named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. In the 1930s, Columbia was growing and Lee school was crowded. But the country was just coming out of the Great Depression, a time period with a 25-percent unemployment rate. The federal government put in place many programs to help stimulate the economy included building projects.  According to a Columbia Daily Tribune article published Feb. 3, 2014, “Lee Elementary amount sites honored as Notable Properties,” there were 15 such New Deal building projects in Columbia and “12 of those projects were for Columbia Public Schools or the University of Missouri.” Tuesday’s event will likely feature representatives of Lee accepting the award. But who wants to remember a time our country overcame economic adversity and get to meet some local educators teaching our children? Those who do, can attend the gala marking Lee’s entry to the Notable Properties List. I’ll be there in hopes of hearing from the educators about their school.

4. Fairview United Methodist Church at 1320 S. Fairview Road will be inducted into the Notable Properties List, but it isn’t a church anymore. One of the best ways to save history is to put the building to work. When Fairview United Methodist Church outgrew this small building, it went on to become the Countryside Nursery School, according to a Jan. 31, 2014 Columbia Missourian article, “Lost history: Fairview Cemetery reflects buried history.” The school has gone on to educate more than 3,000 students since 1979, the article notes. So why would you be interested in a building being reused and remaining a vibrant part of our community? If you are, see you at Tuesday’s event.

5. Fairview Cemetery, next to the former Fairview United Methodist Church, is remarkable for two reasons: it marks a cemetery cared for by family members links it to a cemetery that was lost to time, The Grant Cemetery. Robert Eugene Grant cares for the Fairview Cemetery with his nephew Gary Wayne Grant and his niece Patsy Watt, president of Fairview Cemetery Association. But his distant relatives were buried in Grant Cemetery. Somewhere along Bourn Avenue and Rollins and Stadium, the cemetery was the center of a controversy between the Grant family and a developer that bought the land. The headstones went missing and the development went ahead. As David Sapp, a local historian, is quoted in the newspaper article as noting at that time a lot of family cemeteries were destroyed because there were not laws in place. So why would you want to mark a place where Columbia’s ancestors reside and acknowledge improved respect for such landmarks? Those who do, could attend Tuesday evening’s event.

6. Francis Pike House at 1502 Anthony St. and the Bessie and Dr. J.E. Thornton House at 905 S. Providence. The Anthony Street home was built with Ozark rock and is a rare example of local native stone use, the Columbia Missourian article notes. The Thornton house marks the life of physician Dr. J.E. Thornton who didn’t live long enough to reside in the home he was having built. The house marks his life while highlighting our fragility. The Historic Preservation Commission events typically include presentations about the history of the homes, so who wants to learn more about an area, Providence Road, where street expansion and the destructions of homes has been in the news? If you do, mark Tuesday evening on your calendar.

7. The worst reason to go to the event is to learn to appreciate Columbia and the community. There will be a crowd of people who know about our history and how we grew from a tiny town of a few settlers to a city of more than 100,000, how we went from being a farming community, to a city with problems, yes, but one with three institutions of higher education, a lively downtown (come early to find parking) and employment opportunities in a wide range of industries.

The city has been naming properties to this list since 1998. Qualifying properties must be at least 50 years old, within the city limits and have architectural or historic features that contribute to the city’s social and/or aesthetic resources, according to the city announcement of the event. Properties named to the list have ranged from brick streets to the Blue Note, from Stephens Stables to several of Columbia’s churches.

For more information or to see what other properties have been named to this list, see Columbia’s Most Notable Properties, go to this City of Columbia page.

But maybe these Notable Properties don’t interest you. Or they do and you aren’t attending this event. Why are you missing the event? What properties would you like to see highlighted? What would make you turn out and what makes you interested — or avoid — Columbia history? I’d like to hear from you.



Brick streets

The big business of bricks

Bricks once meant big bucks in Columbia, Missouri. In 1908, The Edwards Brick Co., invested $50,000 — $1.3 million in 2012 purchasing power according to — and employed 40 men, producing 25,000 paving bricks a day. The big buck investment was cited in Brick, Vol. 29, published in October 1908.

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.
W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

By the time the company closed in 1985, the name had been changed to Columbia Brick and Tile, but the employment and output hadn’t changed much. According to a Sept. 12, 1971 article in the Sunday Missourian Magazine, the plant produced 35,000 bricks a day and employed 35 men, including owner operator Bill Powell.

Now Columbia has approved fixing the city’s brick roads, citing their historic value and even the economic value of brick roads. Asphalt roads must be replaced every 15 years, while brick roads can last more than 100 years, notes a March 16, 2014 article by Veronike Collazo published in the Columbia Missourian. On March 17, 2014, Collazo reported the city approved restoring brick streets in Columbia over the next 20 years. See this city map for information on where brick streets are now. In the agreement, it should be noted, the city agreed to limit the cost and include characteristics to make brick streets safe for persons with disabilities.

Today, the brickworks once at 2801 E. Walnut, Columbia, Mo., is roughly under the Lowe’s on Conley Road, according to Liz Kennedy, the sister of the now late John “Jack” Kennedy, the last operator of that brick company. Kennedy noted that Columbia once supported a half dozen brickworks, an industry she says was put out of business due to several factors: increasing regulations, soaring energy costs, the availability of inexpensive mass-produced bricks and a shift toward a demand for perfect and uniform colored bricks, something the beehive kiln bricks of the local company couldn’t be counted on to produce. Today, the reminders of the brickworks exist in a stack of a wide variety of brick and tile at Liz Kennedy’s home — and the brick buildings in Columbia.

Bricks and tile from Edwards Brick, later called Columbia Brick and Tile.
Bricks and tile from Edwards Brick, later called Columbia Brick and Tile.

But the energy costs Liz Kennedy cites might not have affected W.E. Edwards who established the Edwards Brick and Tile Company in 1896. In 1907, he sank a shaft at the works “so as to get at the coal to use at the works,” notes the 1907 Clay Record, Volumes 31-32 by J. Dixon Doyle and George H. Hartwell published by Clay Record Publishing Company.

Here’s a brief chronological history of the Columbia Brick and Tile Company:

According to The State Historical Society of Missouri archival material and summaries of this information, the Edwards Brick and Tile Company “manufactured brick and tile for use in residential, commercial, and institutional projects in Columbia, central Missouri and out-of-state.”

In 1930, the plant became the Edwards-Conley Brick and Tile Company, when Sanford Conley joined the firm.

In 1945, Edwards sold his interest to A. Burnett Coleman.

In 1947, the company’s name was changed to Columbia Brick and Tile, following the death of Conley died and the sale of his interest to Hart Robnett.

In 1950, Fred Kennedy and William Powell bought the plant. In 1966, Fred Kennedy died and his son Jack Kennedy continued the firm in partnership with Powell.

In 1985, Jack and his sister Liz closed the business. The historic archives explains the closure: “Inflation; cost increases in labor, materials, and gas prices; gas shortages and curtailments; and increases in federal regulations in the 1970s took their toll on the small business…”

Now, the history of Columbia as a town with brickworks is nearly forgotten. Yet the legacy lives on in the brick homes and buildings with their multihued and unusual bricks

Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Commercial, Commercial Buildings, Notable Properties List

Find your connections to historic Columbia

Turns out, my best friend is connected to the historic 1910 Heibel-March Building. And she not from here, she’s German and didn’t even move to Columbia from Chicago until the 1970s.

Not bad for a building that had been vacant for 16 years and has only recently been revitalized as the office space for Grove Construction, as outlined in this March 6, 2014 article, headlined Heibel-March Building to open after 16 years of vacancy.

So how is she connected to this building? One of her husband’s relatives married into the Heibel family, giving her a tie to this building. Could you find some ties to historic buildings?

Here’s what the building looked like in 2005, when it was named to Columbia’s Notable Properties List:

Heibel-March Drug Store Building, 2005 Most Notable Properties. Photo Fitzimages Photography/City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. Photo used with permission.
Heibel-March Drug Store Building, 2005 Most Notable Properties. Photo Fitzimages Photography/City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. Photo used with permission.

My friend’s connection stems from way back.Two brothers, J.A. and J.P. Heibel moved to Columbia from Waverly, Ohio in 1896, according to a history of Sacred Heart Catholic church published as “100 Years Sacred Heart Parish, Columbia, Mo, 1881-1981.”

At first the two owned a distillery at Rock Bridge, making brandies and whiskey, according to a Nov. 11, 1919 article in The Evening Missourian. The church history leaves this out, but then notes the Heibel brothers went into business with R.B. Tilley and J.R. Yates, first with a store on Ninth and Broadway, “until the fire of 1920 burned them out.” J.P. Heibel died of pneumonia in 1923, but J.A. Heibel went on to operate Heibel Drug Store with his son Don for “many years at the corner of Range Line (sic) and Wilkes Blvd,” the book on Sacred Heart continues.

One of J.A. Heibel’s daughters, Agnes, married E.L. Simon of the Simon Construction Company, and the history notes, “remained all of her married life in Columbia.”

Since my friend married into the Simon family, she’s part of the fabric of Columbia. I found all this out with a quick Google search – which makes me wonder if anyone else has found quirky links to Columbia’s history, even if they aren’t from here.

Even prior to owning the Heibel building, the Heibels made the news. They were accused of selling “intoxicating liquors in less quantities than three gallons, to-wit: One pint of whiskey and one pint of lager beer, without taking out or having a license as a dramshop keeper,” according to the 1906 book, “Cases Determined in the St. Louis and Kansas City Courts of Appeals of the State of Missouri,” Vol. 116.

Later, J.A. Heibel was lauded for his marketing in the 1915 book, “Tile and Tile,” Vols. 1-5, pharmaceutical trade publications.

“J.A. Heibel, proprietor of the Columbia Drug Company, at Columbia, Mo., is quick to make use of good advertising opportunities. Mr. Heibel has a neatly lettered sign placed over the inside of each of his two front doors. He finds that customers invariably notice one or the other of these signs on leaving and that in many instances the signs accomplish their object in bringing about further sales. The signs read: WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN? V.L. Kerns, Kansas City, Mo.”

So Groves Construction should be lauded for keeping this historic building which has kept alive this history of men who might have been forgotten and which gives us the opportunity ask: How am I connected to Columbia?”

I’d love to hear any unusual connections you’ve found to Columbia’s history.

Historical Homes

Hidden history heard again

J.W. “Blind” Boone started out life as the child of a run away slave and a bugler in the Missouri Militia. Before his death in 1927, he was one of the most famous Missourians — black or white — and one of the wealthiest, income from a touring schedule that took him all over the country, including New York and Boston. But before his death, he and his manager John Lange, a former slave himself, owned their own homes and we considered wealthy men.

All that, Boone’s success, his and his manager’s wealth, all began with a strange and wonderful concert competition between former slave “Blind Tom” Wiggins, a black man who toured and could imitate any music he heard and J.W. “Blind” Boone. That concert kicked off Boone’s career that would span the playing and writing of classical and ragtime music.

His home at 10 N. Fourth St., has been saved and awaits further restoration.

But the competitive concert was re-enacted by Sutu Forte, as Boone, and Tom Andes, as Wiggins. This March 5, 2014 article, “The Battle of the Keys,” outlines the historic event and its recent repetition. The event was sponsored by the Boone County Historic Society.


Churches, Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Historical Homes, Notable Properties List, Sacred Spaces, Uncategorized

Party set for April 1 to celebrate historic properties

Columbia’s celebration of 2014’s additions to the Notable Properties is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 1 in City Hall at 701 E. Broadway. The event was postponed from Feb. 4 due to a snow storm.

This year’s event will feature 15 years of images of the historic properties and introductions by Columbia’s Historic Preservation commissioners of the award winners.

The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are appreciated either via or by calling Community Development Department at 573.874.7239.

So what made this year’s list? And while you’re looking at this 2014 list, ponder what buildings you’d like to see on the list. Nominations are typically taken in October – but you can make your recommendations below in comments now.

  • Lee Elementary School at 1208 Locust St. The 1934 school was built using federal New Deal funds. Such projects were funded in an effort during the Great Depression to put the unemployed to work building public projects, according to a Columbia Daily Tribune article published Feb. 3, 2014. Lee joins five other Columbia schools cited for historic buildings:  Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School, 10 E. Broadway (1911),  Frederick Douglass School, 310 N. Providence Road, (1917), Jefferson Junior High School, 713 Rogers, , and Thomas Hart Benton Elementary School (1927), and Field Elementary School, 1010 N. Rangeline, since closed.
  • Fairview Methodist Church, 1320 Fairview Road. Five other churches have been named to the Notable Properties list over the years.
  • The Fairview Cemetery, which abuts the church property. The cemetery has been family-maintained for more than 50 years, according to a Missourian Jan 31-Feb. 1, 2014 article. Another cemetery is on Columbia’s Notable Properties List.
  • The Francis Pike house at 1520 Anthony St.,
  • The Dr. James E. Thornton and Bessie Thornton house at 905 S. Providence Road.

The city has been naming properties to this list since 1998. Qualifying properties must be at least 50 years old, within the city limits and have architectural or historic features that contribute to the city’s social and/or aesthetic resources, according to the city announcement of the event.

Properties named to the list have ranged from brick streets to the Blue Note, from Stephens Stables to several of Columbia’s churches.

For more information or to see what other properties have been named to this list, see Columbia’s Most Notable Properties, go to this City of Columbia page.

So, what do you want to see on next year’s list? What historic property tickled your fancy this year?