University of Missouri

Mysterious lack of fanfare: Sigma Nu fraternity house at 710 S. College Ave. demolished

Part of the mission of this website is to mark the history — and the destruction of history — in Columbia in terms of its buildings.

Mysteriously, there was little fanfare about the destruction of the 1915 Sigma Nu fraternity house at 710 S. College Ave. Here is a photo story published in the Columbia Missourian on June 28, 2016.

  • June 28, 2016 — Sigma Nu comes down, Columbia Missourian. Summary: The fraternity house at 710 S. College Ave. is demolished. A new fraternity house will replace it.

Like all demolitions, the plans for this started long before the bricks were smashed. This City of Columbia notice of May 23 and May 24, 2016 shows the city using the building as firefighter practice.

This July 2016 City of Columbia demolition report shows the building on the list. The city must issue a demolition permit, which is designed to ensure that utilities are turned off and any safety concerns have been addressed.

Here’s a video that shows what the new building will look like.

Here’s a link to the Sigma Nu’s website’s history page where you can see what the house that was at 710 S. College Ave.


Black History

Another view of history

During the student protests against racist event in the fall of 2015, some people shook their head and privately wondered — and even some publicly asked — why were students and residents were so angry, so willing to react and protest.

Perhaps one answer lies in Columbia’s history. This article published in the December 2016 issue of the Columbia Business Times shows a view of Stewart Bridge, now gone, replaced with a portion of Stewart Road. This bridge was the site in 1923 of the lynching of James Scott. For decades his death certificate said he was lynched for rape, although he never had had his day in court. It wasn’t until 2010, the article notes, that his death certificate was corrected to read that he died due to hanging by assailants.

You might be shaking your head — wasn’t that so long ago? Shouldn’t that be forgotten? And yet, my grandfather came to this country due to unrest in Europe in 1914. He never forgot and our family still talks about why he came here to escape the war and violence there. Of course, my family has the privilege and benefit of being able to talk about that war and violence, but how do people talk about lynching? The death of a man without a trial? Perhaps they don’t. And perhaps it’s time we do.

That’s why I’m thrilled to see the recent media coverage of this crime, this subversion of our country’s rule of law. It’s only when we as a society talk about what really happened can we heal. A page on this website lists seven different articles or series on the lynching, but I’m sure I’ve missed some. Are seven articles enough to expose the racism inherent in a crime like this? Have we as a city as a culture done enough to warrant the phrase never again? Does this help make sense of strong reactions against racism?

I don’t know, but I do know I appreciate the work of writers and photographers like Grace Vance who wrote and photographed this piece and the generosity of Brenna McDermott, editor of the Columbia Business Times, who gave me permission to reprint the article via the pdf posted.

December 2016 — Stewart Road/Stewart Bridge, Columbia Business Times. Summary:  This piece highlights the fact that a portion of Stewart Road was once Stewart Bridge, the site of Columbia’s last public lynching. Written and photographed by Grace Vance, the piece shows both the view of today and of the past. A pdf of the article is posted with permission from Brenna McDermott, editor of the CBT

Historic Hours, Historical Homes, Uncategorized, University of Missouri

Twain did it, now you can do it. See the 1867 Italianate Chancellor’s Residence

But will cost you $15, which will go to a good cause. The Chancellor’s Residence at 501 N. Ninth St., is on the Women’s Symphony League Holiday Homes Tour set for 1-4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 and 4, 2016.

You can buy tickets at this website: Women’s Symphony League Holiday Homes Tour.

The Residence is one of five buildings on the tour, two at MU. The buildings are:

  • The home of Melissa and Josh Holyoak, 2709 Chapel Wood View
  • The home of Megan and Daniel Hoyt, 5307 E. Tayside Circle
  • Providence Point, University of Missouri President’s Residence, 1900 Providence Point
  • The Chancellor’s Residence, 501 S. Ninth St.,
  • Brouder Science Center, Columbia College, 705 Rangeline

Mark Twain dined in the residence in 1902 when he was on campus to receive an honorary degree, according to this MU document about the house. President Harry S Truman stayed there in 1950 and Eleanor Roosevelt stopped in for a rest there in 1959.

Now, the Foley family calls it home. But so does another resident, according to rumor and some accounts.

The house, documents recount, was finished in 1867, and is the oldest building on the campus of the oldest public university west of the Mississippi River.

In 1867, MU President Daniel Read moved in with his family and his wife Alice died there in 1874. This undated publication of the Columbia Missourian includes a video clip of Anne Deaton, wife of the former Chancellor Brady Deaton and a former resident of the Residence. She relates in the video an account of the grandfather clock that didn’t work chimed unexpectedly and the elevator would run without an occupant, incidents she attributes to Alice Read’s ghost.

The Residence, the article notes, is included in the recently book, “The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls and Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland,” by Mary Barile.

Perhaps there are other hauntings. Until April 27, 2016, the Residence was occupied by R. Bowen Loftin, the chancellor who resigned the fall of 2015, ousted by student protests over what they called the university’s lack of response to racial incidents. His move out was covered and his sentiments highlighted in this June 27, 2016 Columbia Missourian article.

There have been other opportunities to take a peek at the resident of current Interim Chancellor Hank Foley and his wife Karin. They hosted an open house Sept. 24, 2016 with free admission.

But this weekend will give you a chance to see the Residence spruced up for the holidays and an opportunity to support music in Columbia. The proceeds from the holiday tour goes to the Women’s Symphony League, which supports the Missouri Symphony Society that brings a wide range of music to Columbia, Missouri.

It’s not as a nice a deal as Twain received with dining there and receiving an honorary degree, but it is an opportunity to see a historic home at its finest.

And that’s a good deal.