The James Apartment building is slated to be demolished to make room for more student apartments. Yes, today, the James Apartment is a slightly seedy looking apartment building, but it wasn’t always. And contrary to what the developer says in this Columbia Tribune Feb. 7, 2015 piece, that buildings can’t be repurposed, indeed, the James Apartment is on its third — or perhaps second first use.
What do you think? Would you rather this house with its quirky apartments of a 10-story apartment building for college students?
Here is media coverage of the upcoming demolition and plans for that lot and other adjoining plots.
Feb. 14, 2016 — Council members split on 10-story apartment building ahead of Monday vote, Columbia Daily Tribune.
Before it was the future site of a 10-story apartment building, the James Apartment building was the home of the Elks Club and before that it was the Winn Hotel, according to an article published in the 1980s in the Columbia Daily Tribune. The article was written by Midge Crawford and Francis Pike, which is part of the Midge Crawford collection now owned and housed by the Boone County Historical Society.
The article outlines how the building to be demolished was built by Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Winn as the Winn Hotel in 1903 and then became the Elks Club’s second home in 1910. That year, the Elks’ membership 600 and the organization bought the hotel.
If you like the idea of George Washington lived here, you might want to give the building at 121 Tenth St. a second look. Those who lived there after the Elks added rooms at the rear and began renting out the upstairs rooms to members included John Hickam, Boone County Collector, and, the article notes, “L.E. Slate, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce; R.H. Hill, a dentist at 813 A East Broadway; Joe Morris, manager of the Railway Express Co., A.R. Troxell, an attorney; Slater Bouchelle; and Wilson Hall.”
But the Great Depression took its toll on the Elks and in 1932, the Elks sold the property to pay off the mortgage. “The members realized $12,000 from the sale, enough to pay off their debts and have a small profit,” the article states.
The building became the James Apartments.
All over Columbia and the world, buildings are changed and rehabilitated. A warehouse on Walnut now houses an art gallery, a gym and luxury apartments in an award-winning renovation. Other warehouses have become art spaces. Senior Hall at Stephens College has an 1841 house at its core, according to this National Register of Historic Places document.
So, in contrast to the sentiment expressed by the developer who seeks to demolish the apartment building, many buildings are repurposed.
Of course, buildings do get demolished. Many would be surprised to find out there was a house where the magnificent Missouri Theatre now stands, in fact it was a house where a relative of Mary Todd Lincoln’s resided. But few would argue that one house on the lot where the Missouri Theatre now stands would be a better use for that plot.
Yet, I’ve heard the James Apartments are filled with built-ins and unusual features such as louvered doors, the answer to ventilation prior to air conditioning. So do we want to lose our history for a 10-story building? Is that a better use of that land than a retail store, a bar and the James Apartments?