You can make a difference

If you’ve ever felt discouraged about the demolition of Columbia’s historic structures, here’s a way you can get involved. The Columbia Historic Preservation Commission schedules work days to save parts of houses and structures before they’re demolished. Those items are then stored and later offered for sale.

Door and hardware from 121 S. Tenth St., March 1, 2016.

Solid wood doors and hardware saved prior to the demolition of the James Apartments, 121 S. Tenth St.

You can get involved saving these important parts of buildings before they’re lost.

Here’s a message from Pat Fowler, chair of the HPC:

Saturday, June 17, we are planning a salvage work day and a small scale salvage on a house soon to be demolished.  We need about 10 volunteers, in four-hour shifts, and a couple of pick-up trucks.  The city has set aside salvage from the Blind Boone home renovation and materials donated for our transport to our salvage barn in Rock Quarry Park.

One team will go to the little house and then join us to transport the Blind Boone salvage.

Part of our plan is to label the source of the Blind Boone Salvage and other items so that when we offer them for sale later this summer, we can convey to our purchasers as much information as we haveThe little house has some cool cabinets, some trim and we’d like to practice pulling some hardwood floor.

One of our new members on Historic Preservation, John Gagliardi, will be our team lead on the little house.

If you are interested, please send an email to fowlerpatj@gmail.com, or message us on the City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission Facebook page, with your contact info.  We’ll send out specific start times, a suggested list of things to bring and be ready for your participation.

True losses from demolitions

Once again, historic houses look like they are slated for the wrecking ball, and the public has little recourse. Both Victorian houses at 1312 Bass Ave., and 1316 Bass Ave., have had demolition permits applied for, according to this May 6, 2016 article in the Columbia Missourian.

So what can the public in Columbia, Missouri do? Nothing. Unless the development planned would violate zoning permits or cause harm to public safety, property owners have the right to do what they like to their property.

Who is behind the destruction of these historic buildings in Columbia, Missouri?

It’s good to recall these things happen because someone wants them to happen. These are not strangers coming to Columbia to destroy our historic homes, but people just like you and me who decide they’d rather have a different building on their property. In this case, those people are Elizabeth Crawford through her firm CCD Investments. According to public records, CCD Investments is an eight-year-old firm headquartered in Columbia.

Another person involved owns Connell Architecture, and public records show the owner of this firm is Brian Connell.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that real people are taking real actions we may or may not like, as in this case. But the reality is that owners of property can do what they like with their property, unless public funds are involved in some way such as when historic preservation tax credits are used for renovations.

The article outlines that once again, the proposed use of the land, after the two 1910 circa homes are destroyed, will be apartments. Apparently, both Crawford and Connell think the needs of Columbia, Missouri would be better served by a three-story apartment complex with 48 bedrooms than two Victorian homes.

So what are we losing?

1316 Bass Avenue

The house at 1316 Bass Ave., is described as “The most obvious remnant from the Victorian age,” according to the National Register of Historic Places document for the East Campus National Historic District. The document continues, “the ca. 1898’Wm. T. Bayless house at 1316 Bass Avenue, an archetypical Queen Anne house featuring a curved wrap-around porch, corner tower, patterned shingles, stained glass windows, and polygonal corner bays.”

1312 Bass Avenue

Here’s what the NRHP document says about the 1312 Bass Ave. house:

“One early house in the northern part of the district displays such a mixture of styles. Directly east of the Bayless house, at 1312 Bass Avenue, is a large residence built by William Cochran around 1910. It displays an interesting mix of stylistic elements, some of which look ahead to twentieth century houses and others which are straight out of the Queen Anne era. The house has a solid rectangular form and Classically inspired decoration typical of Colonial Revival houses, and shaped exposed rafter ends and textured brick wall surfaces common to Craftsman houses, but also has decorative shingle work of the front gable end, and many multi-paned windows which are more representative of Queen Anne dwellings of the late nineteenth century. It appears that Cochran simply chose what was for him, the best of both worlds.”

The real loss

But I think the real loss of these homes is not the stained glass windows, the textured brick walls or event the decorative features of these Victorian homes. No, we’ll lose the story of the people who lived there. Who recalls William T. Bayless? Perhaps no one. But William Cochran may have been the man who helped organize the Presbyterian Church, according to this April 12, 2009 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Once the house is gone, no one will go looking for the history of Mr. Cochran or of Mr. Bayless. Perhaps offspring will come by and look for their memorial stones, but there will be no space, no living room, no bedroom, no garden, no bricks and mortar where their ancestors lived and perhaps died to look at, to see how they lived. And that is the real loss of any home.

So now, Columbia, Missouri and the East Campus Neighborhood will gain eight four-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments.

Might be a fair deal, but that’s not our call. It’s not for the public to say, but for the owners of the development firm, Elizabeth Crawford and those at the construction firm Crawford Construction and the architect, Connell Architecture to say. It’s their call, but Columbia’s loss.

You can save history – or at least a piece of it

If you live in Columbia, Missouri, you’ve probably heard a 1903 former hotel is coming down. But you might not know that you can help save pieces of this historic building for salvage, even, perhaps for installation elsewhere downtown in the future. Here’s a look at what can be saved and how you can help.

Louvered doors in the former Winn Hotel, 1903, 121 S. Tenth St., Columbia, Missouri. Photo used with permission.

Louvered doors in the former Winn Hotel, 1903, 121 S. Tenth St., Columbia, Missouri. Photo used with permission.

In-wall tables in the former Winn Hotel, 1903, 121 S. Tenth St., Columbia, Missouri. Photo used with permission.

In-wall tables in the former Winn Hotel, 1903, 121 S. Tenth St., Columbia, Missouri. Photo used with permission.

Here’s a post from Pat Fowler, a member of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, reprinted with permission:

“Thank you for agreeing to share this information with your students, circle of friends, family members and co-workers. At last look we had 29 of our slots filled, with 100 more to go. Some slots are 2 hours, some are 4 hours, all contribute measurably to the greater goal of saving what is unique and special about the James (formerly the Winn Hotel and the Tenth Street Elks Lodge). We welcome our volunteers signing up for more than one shift if their busy lives permit.

Send any questions via email to fowlerpatj@gmail.com or text 573-256-6841.

Our planning team: On site Rosie Gerding and I will share volunteer coordinator duties, one of us will be on premises for the duration to greet each of the volunteers, provide breakfast snacks, coffee, lunch food, beverages, get what ever is needed from what ever source, and make certain we have cleared your path, literally and figuratively, to get the work done as efficiently as possible. Dan Cullimore, Kelly Veach, Douglas Jones and Mark Wahrenbrock will lead teams in de-construction, door and hardware removal, fixture removal and a handful of us will assist Habitat’s ReStore with our appliance dollies in getting the 21 refrigerators, several of the stoves and a new, still in the box, water heater out the door and to their truck.

Though we can’t save the building, we can save many of the items that are uniquely the James. I’ve attached both our most recent flyer and a photo array of many though not all of the items we seek to remove safely for re-purposing. Please spread the word.

If you have a few hours to participate, please use our sign up tool; we look forward to greeting you inside the front door of the James.

Best,

Pat
573-256-6841 (text and voice)

P.S. I’m to visit with Simon and Renee on KFRU’s Morning Meeting on Friday, 10:00 ish. Tune in. A press release is in the works, watch the local coverage on Thursday wink emoticon

Seeing inside the James Apartments before the demolition

The 1903 James Apartments, once known as the Winn Hotel and the Elks Lodge, is set for demolition, but not all is lost. These articles summarize how Historic Preservation Commission member Pat Fowler organized a group of people to swarm, document and brainstorm how to save the best pieces of the building.

A date for removal will be set and an electronic sign up sheet will be posted soon.

Below is a gallery of photos and then a list of the recent articles about the upcoming demolition of the building at 121 S. Tenth St.

But if you’d like to get a peek inside now, before the crowbars get going, here are three views of the building, including that of an MU law student who plans to work with officials to get zoning put in place to stop the loss of other historic buildings and to support affordable student housing downtown.

I attended this documentation, list-making event, and here are pictures from that event, Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

March 2, 2016 — Law student starts petition to preserve historic downtown, The Maneater. Summary: Grace Shemwell, a second-year MU law student started a petition to save the James Condominium, the former Winn Hotel, at 121 S. Tenth St. While the petition with 2,636 signatures can’t save this building set for demolition, she plans to work with city officials to create zoning to protect historic buildings and incentivize affordable student housing.

Demolishing James Apartments: More than the loss of one building

Why should we care about one building being demolished? One building older than 100 years doesn’t seem like much to lose. We have lots of buildings, right? Yes and no.

This Feb. 16, 2016 article by Brittany Crocker with photos by Mikala Compton published in the Columbia Missourian explains why the loss of one building can do so much harm. Zip down to the part where Deb Sheals, a historic preservation expert, is quoted.

The article quotes Sheals saying, “The thing about a historic district is it’s a collection. Each property by itself may not be the most historic building, but together they’re a pretty important grouping. As we keep chopping away at our downtown, we’re losing that character.”

Sheals goes on to note how the Niedermeyer was saved several years ago. Columbia City Council couldn’t say no to someone using the property and the land in whatever way he or she wanted. Instead, a local person bought the property and is restoring it.

In this case, the owners of the James Apartments said they had an offer from a developer that was too lucrative to refuse. So after gaining rents from the building for years, a profitable offer came and they took it. There’s no way to ask the former owners of the building how they’ll feel about Columbia once it is all high-rise apartments. Whether they’ll go downtown to shop or eat when they’re so sunshine able to make its way to the sidewalks.

And there will be no way to go back to the quirky look of Columbia once it’s all high-rise buildings and franchise eateries. Because that character, that look, those historic buildings will be lost.

Perhaps something better, grander, more interesting will be in its place. Certainly, whatever was there before the Tiger Hotel was there is gone, and who doesn’t love the historic Tiger Hotel. But I’m not personally convinced that a 10-story apartment building is going to be the treasure that the Tiger or the Missouri Theatre have become.

But I need to be willing to wait and see because the James Apartments will soon be history.

 

 

121 Tenth St., historic building slated for demolition

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.

121 Tenth St. James Apartments

121 Tenth St. James Apartments

HISTORY

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.

 

MORE HISTORY

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.

DEMOLITIONS HAPPEN

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?

Skyscrapers, preservation and development

Can preservationists learn to love skyscrapers? Sure. Because it’s not the height, the location or how old a build is that matters — it’s quality and how the building will serve people.

In this article in the New York Times, “Sure, Build it in My Backyard,” the website of Nikolai Fedak is highlighted. The name of the site? New York YIMBY – which stands for Yes in My Back Yard, versus NIMBY, not in my back yard.

So what’s a pro-development site like New York YIMBY doing being mentioned — even mentioned — on Columbia Historic Homes, a site dedicated to well, historic homes, ones you might presume I’m trying to preserve.

This article notes that Mr. Fedak says not all development is good, but that development is part of the economy and can be good. Note it can be good. Not that it is always good. The article outlines where and when he’s been critical.

It’s been said the best way to preserve a building is to put it to work. School buildings become homes. Former grocery stores become art galleries, gyms and luxury apartments. Yes, I’m talking the building on Walnut owned John Ott, mentioned in this Columbia Tribune article in 2008 and the one I wrote for the Columbia Business Times in 2010.

So where have you seen preservation work — and where have you seen it be misguided? For example, is it preservation as when as on campus they kept the shell of Walter Williams Hall?

And could skyscrapers ever be the answer? Who would want to say no to the Flat Iron Building in NYC? Yet, some of the student-oriented high-rise apartments in Columbia look unlikely to stand the test of time. Or did they say that about the Beverly and Dumas Apartment buildings?

So what’s it gonna be, Columbia? NIMBY or YIMBY? Share your thoughts on the ups and downs, pros and cons.