Welcome to my website dedicated to Columbia’s historic homes and properties.

What’s on this site?  This site includes links to various published articles as well as my own journalistic writing about various historic buildings, locations and events. I’m a journalist so facts are attributed to various sources such as previously published works and government documents (I adore the National Register of Historic Places documents!).

How can I check your sources? I’ve created a page named All Media Coverage. This is my attempt to list any published articles about Columbia’s historic sites.

Who is in charge of this site? My name is Dianna Borsi O’Brien and I’m a freelance journalist as well as an adjunct journalism instructor at School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. I’m a real person so if you find a mistake or want to make a comment, please try to be nice. I adhere to journalism principles, so any facts come from attributable sources, and when I inject opinion I work to make that clear. I’ve been a professional journalist since 1987 and have worked at several newspapers and contributed to several magazines as a freelance writer.

Why does this site exist? That’s a great question! I’m not from Columbia, Missouri, although I’ve lived here since 1998 and prior to that from 1991-1995. When I first started this site, I was obsessed with the history of Columbia that most people didn’t seem to even know existed. But then as I continued to research, I realized that what I loved about the historic properties were the stories inside the buildings.

What stories? Did you know that one of the buildings at Columbia College isn’t a college building at all? Nope, it started out life as the unfinished mansion of James Bennett.

I’m also fascinated by the stories of women’s lives and how we often misplace them entirely. For example, the Conley house is named after Sanford Francis Conley, yet he only lived there from 1869 until his death in 1890 at age 52. His wife and then widow Kathryn (Kate) Singleton Conley lived there another 41 years until her death at 81 in 1931. So why isn’t it called the Kate Singleton Conley house?  These are the kinds of questions that drive me.

What’s the purpose of this site? This site is designed to serve three purposes:

  1. To help people find information about historic properties in Columbia, Missouri and the surrounding areas;
  2. To foster interest in Columbia’s history;
  3. To collect information and find connections for a planned book on Columbia’s historic homes.

How can I contact the owner of this website?  I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at dobrien387@gmail.com or 573.424.5749. Also, for more information about me, my work and other projects, please visit diannaobrien.com and charleswgehrke.com

Sources on this website: The information on this website has been drawn from a variety of sources, including the city of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission. Note: This website is not affiliated, associated or endorsed by the Historic Preservation Commission. For more information the Columbia’s HPC, go to the HPC’s official site here.

Notable Properties: This website began with a list highlighting the sites on Columbia’s Notable Properties a list developed by Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission.

The list of Notable Properties began in 1998 when the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) began naming five to 10 properties to the list each year except for 1999. Properties named to the list must meet three criteria:

  • Within the city limits;
  • 50 years old or older;
  • Feature architectural or historical importance either through historic features, who lived there or how it was used.

National Register of Historic Places: The website includes places in Boone County on the federal National Register of Historic Places. To learn more about the properties on the National Register of Historic Places, go to this website.


  1. hi deanna, i was one of the lucky children who went to this school in 1940’s and 50’s. we had a pump that we used to get our drinking water from. we had a lady cooking our lunch and i can still remember how good it smelled. we played many a ball game in the back.my pecan pie bought the most money for the school and i was so shy i wouldn’t eat with the boy who bought my shoe box supper. i am now 75 years old.

    1. Lucy, thanks for your comment. Can you tell me what school you are referring to so I can post your comment? Sorry for not replying earlier! Dianna O’Brien

      1. yes. it was keene school on brown station rd. in columbia. it was in the late 40’s and early 50’s.they didn’t have school buses then and we had to cut across neighbors fields or walk the road which was a really long walk.

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