Areas, General

Where are CoMo’s unique neighborhoods?

Neighborhoods. Streetscapes. Where we live. Cities, even CoMo, are made up of neighborhoods, often with a streetscape, a way the area looks that’s uniform — or not.

These neighborhoods with their own streetscapes are the places where we live, it’s where you and I might actually know the people (and, for me, the dogs) who live there.

And each one is unique. What neighborhood in CoMo do you think has its own look, a unique or unusual look? Does your neighborhood feel cohesive? Quirky without common features? Or even cookie cutter with reassuring similarities? Share comments or photos below.

Here’s a link to a post on the blog B.E.L.T. about an area that has a quirky, yet delightful streetscape. B.E.L.T. stands for Built Environment in Layman’s Terms and it highlights what’s called Mid-Century Modern, MCM, buildings built from 1940-1970.

The article highlights the Berkeley, Missouri’s Frostwood Subdivision, a North County St. Louis neighborhood made up of Mid-Century Modern homes.

The subdivision, built between 1952 and 1956, has a quirky streetscape. The homes don’t all have a single set-back or orientation, so some of the houses look directly onto streets and some are sited on a slight tilt to the street, giving each home its own view of the area.

Take a peek!

Definitely not a cookie-cutter subdivision!

Is there a CoMo version of this kind of subdivision?

The subdivision I live in is the new Southwest, just west of West Boulevard, including Sunset Drive, Crestland, Francis Drive and the saints —  St. Christopher, St. Michaels and St. Andrew. It feels like its own community within Columbia. I know if I go for a walk, I might see Ginger, Loki or Guinness and their owners. (Yes, I’m a hard-core dog owner.)

The homes are mainly one level — or look like one level. Many have a walk-out ranch layout like mine with a full basement used as living space, but you can’t see from the front that the lower level even exists.

Built 1955
Built 1955

As our neighborhood has aged, it was developed in the 1950s and 1960s, houses have changed the way they look. One house was recently rehabbed and now sports a front porch with room enough to gather outside under the new small porch roof. We also have in our neighborhood one of the very few houses I’ve ever seen painted all black. I always wonder if the house color affects their cooling bills in the summer.

Of course, some changes involve landscaping. A new shade tree gives a house a settled look. A fresh front door color highlights the 50s look of our long, low Mid-Century Modern homes.

But whatever the landscaping or home improvements, our streetscape stays basically the same, a look that tells me I’m home in my own neighborhood.

What are your favorite neighborhoods in CoMo? What kinds of different streetscapes have you noticed in Columbia? Leave comments or photos in the comment section!

Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Events, Get involved

Ready to get plastered? Oct. 13 plaster workshop

Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission is offering a one-day workshop on how to repair your own plaster.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2018. It will be held in the Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area at 1905 Hillcrest Drive in Columbia. The cost is $85.

Sign up now, as space is limited.

The event, according to a HPC Facebook post, will be taught by Eric Aulbach, who has more 30 years experience in traditional plaster repair, patching, skim coats, drywall repair, exterior stucco, polished Italian/Venetian plasters, ornamental, cove work and imitation marble in slab and veneer methods.

The workshop will include the basics of plastering, the differences between plaster and drywall, safety and simple shortcuts.

Sign up here, you’ll need the class code 113143 or the location to use the search function. The event is co-sponsored with Columbia’s Parks and Rec.

Why take the class? The HPC Facebook post notes, “This workshop will help property owners save money by being able to patch plaster themselves. A typical 2 square foot ceiling patch in St Louis would cost between $350.00-450.00 to hire a plasterer to do the repair.”

  • Check-in is at 8:45 a.m.
  • Lunch will be provided with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
  • Wear clothes you can get dirty and shoes with substantial protection from falling tools. No open toe shoes, please.

Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area
1905 Hillcrest Drive
Columbia, MO 65201
White Pole Barn (From the entrance off Old 63 – follow the asphalt road to the top of the hill until you arrive at a parking lot adjacent to the white building.)

Questions? Contact Pat Fowler, chair of the City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, with plaster workshop in the subject line or text your question to 573-256-6841.

CoMo200, Events, Get involved

History – use it or lose it?

In 2021, Columbia will be celebrating its 200th anniversary, but will this be a celebration of all of our history or only the history of a few?

The next meeting of the Mayor’s Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning Meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2018, in the Community Room Walton Building 300 South Providence.

Will some history be lost like the memory of log cabins like the one inside the house at 121 West Blvd. North? Or will people step forward to get involved?

121 West Blvd historic picture of log cabin with ladder. Courtesy of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography.
121 West Blvd historic picture of log cabin with a ladder. Courtesy of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography.

At the task force’s first meeting in February 2018, it set three goals for the celebration.

— It should be inclusive of all of Columbia, celebrating the history of all of the city’s population, from the rich to the poor, from the young to the old and all ethnicities including immigrants.
— The celebrations should be fun and entertaining.
— The bicentennial task force should help to create something lasting, something to leave a mark for the future, whether that includes lesson plans for grade and high school children or a piece of artwork in the Flat Branch area, which is where Columbia got its start.

Here are the names of the task force members:
Brent Gardner
Pat Fowler
Nate Brown
Eryca Neville
Chris Campbell
Ann Rogers
Tom Mendenhall (Representative of the Downtown Community Improvement District)
Deb Sheals (Representative of the Downtown Community Improvement District)

No matter what these task force members do or don’t do, the celebration won’t be inclusive if it doesn’t include everyone’s voice, so make sure you get involved and speak up. You can contact the task force members via by going here and using the pull-down menu.

Right now, the task force is getting itself organized and collection information, so think about what how you might get involved or how your group or organization might participate.

As for me, I’d like to see some oral or written histories collected. Perhaps groups like the Cosmo Club and other organizations could collect their own histories whether they got started in the 1800s, 1900s or even the 2000s.

Perhaps all the houses of worship will consider looking at the history of their faith community and how it has affected the city.

Perhaps families, no matter when they arrived, will take time out to collect their history in Columbia.

Area businesses could look at how they’ve changed with the times. ABC Labs, for example, started out in recycled buildings and is now housed at Discovery Ridge, and celebrated its 50th anniversary, even though it’s not owned by the global firm EAG Labs.

Many have done excellent work collecting the history of Columbia’s once vibrant black economic area, Sharp End, but perhaps this is an opportunity to collect, document and celebrate even more of our city’s often under-recognized history.

But the task force won’t know what’s possible — or what the residents of Columbia want — unless you speak up.


Slave labor part of Stephens Lake’s heritage

If you’ve ever enjoyed Stephens Lake Park, you’ve enjoyed the fruit of the labor of slaves.

According to this history of Grindstone Nature Area, the area that is now Stephens Lake Park was cleared by slave labor in 1823.

The history of Grindstone Nature Area includes that nature was also owned by the Gordon family as well until 1959, according to this online document on the Grindstone Nature Area.

The document states that David Gordon came to the Columbia area and “by shrewd management and hard work laid the fortune for considerable fortune.” Some might say his amassing of land and fortune involved more than shrewd management.

The document notes that “slave labor was used to burn brick, fell trees, saw lumber and complete the mansion” that was once on the property of what is now Stephens Lake Park. on the Notable Properties list, it is still historic in its own right. This link is to a document that outlines the history of David Gordon, Marshall Gordon and this tract of land owned by the Gordon family from pioneer days until 1959.

This history states when David Gordon moved to Columbia he brought with him “many slaves.” Those slaves, it continues, “In 1823, slave labor was used to burn brick, fell trees, saw lumber …” for a mansion that once stood near Stephens’ Lake. The mansion burned in 1998.

If you’d like to read about the mansion built by slave labor, here’s a link to the National Register of Historic Places which describes it.

This un-dated blog post on Boone History quotes a 1935 newspaper article about Jim Williams, one of the slaves who lived and worked on the Gordon property. The blog post states Williams was born on the Gordon land in 1959 and was 6 when he was freed. The article quoted describes Williams’ life on the Gordon estate. Williams lived in a cabin that was once land which is now Stephens Lake Park.

Why bring up the slave-labor past of Stephens Lake? I want to appreciate all the people who labored to make Columbia the place where I love to live, even the people who often don’t make it onto the pages of our history books.

So, if you’ve ever enjoyed Stephens Lake Park, take time to appreciate the people who made it the beautiful place it is today.

A watercolor painting of a house annotated The Dean Smith House 1982 signed by Margaret Hoyback
Historical Homes

Help me find the Dean Smith house

Do you know where this house is? The annotation says “The Dean Smith House,” and it is signed by Margaret Hoyback or Margaret Hoybach, the last letter isn’t clear.

A watercolor painting of a house annotated The Dean Smith House 1982 signed by Margaret Hoyback
A watercolor painting of a house annotated The Dean Smith House 1982 signed by Margaret Hoyback

An audience member at a recent talk I gave sent me this photo of this house and asked me if I could find its location. She bought the painting some years back in a little shop in Fayette. The seller said she’d bought it at an estate auction in Columbia, which is why we think it might be a Columbia home.

City directories – no luck

I put on my researcher hat and checked the Columbia city directories for 1981 and 1982

I found a Dean Smith, but he lived on Bonny Linn Drive and none of the houses on that street look anything like the painting.

I checked everyone listed as D. Smith, hoping it might be someone using his or her initial in the directory. No luck.

Researcher note: City directories can be a great source of historic information. The directories list every person by last name, first name. Lists of the streets are in another section with every resident listed under each street. For example, if you want to know who lived in your house in 1983, you can simply look up your street in the city directory.

The Columbia Public Library has city directories dating from 1936-2017, with some gaps in there. The books are in the reference area.

Telephone books – no luck again

I checked the telephone books and again, no one with the name Smith lived on a street with homes that looked like that. I took the addresses with Smith and Googled them to see what the homes looked like on those streets. It was old-school research using real paper telephone books from the 1980s combined with today’s technology which lets you see what a neighborhood looks like.

Researcher note: Telephone books can be a peek into history when people listed their address and telephone number is publically accessible published formats. The Columbia Public Library has telephone books from 1955 to 2013. The 1955 volume is 150 pages.

Google stuck out

I Googled it from every angle I could and I finally found a Dean Smith — as in a dean at the University of Missouri named Smith.

Not so fast. After some researching, I learned that Dean Smith didn’t become a Smith until 1986. I found an obituary of her husband noting their marriage date of 1986. That means it is unlikely that Dean Smith, Bea Litherland Smith, the 2018 Athena International Leadership Award winner, is the right person.

Artist search

Google turned up an artist by the name of Margaret Hoybach, but she’s headquartered in South Carolina. I did send her an email because the painting does look like her work. However, her website says she focuses on the East Coast, and Columbia doesn’t qualify for that. However, I’m hoping that Dean Smith, whoever he or she was, might have been a friend or family member and she did the painting out of kindness.

Can you help find the location of this house?

So now I’m hoping someone can look at this picture and let me know where it is. Come on social media, I’m rooting for you to help us find the story behind the Dean Smith House.