CoMo200, Events, Get involved

Get a peek at a park and mark your calendar WAY ahead

Get out your 2021 calendar and mark it now. Really. The celebration of Columbia’s bicentennial is set for May 2021 and last week, the design for a park expansion set to mark the CoMo200 celebration was given the OK by The Downtown Leadership Council.

Not so fast. The plan still needs approval by the Columbia City Council. The plan will come before the city council on May 6.

Here’s a peek at the proposed park.

Already parking has surfaced as a potential problem with the park plan. According to this coverage published on April3, 2019 by, a public comment on the proposed plan states the owner of the historic Columbia Ice House at the corner of Providence and Broadway wants to preserve more parking spaces along Providence Road.

The land where the disputed parking is located is owned by the city, the article notes.

Set to complain the city is wasting money on parks? Think again. The city purchased the land for $1 million, but the park development will be privately funded.

Wondering what the heck CoMo200 is?

Here’s the skinny.

  • Ongoing — The taskforce has been meeting monthly. See this city page for meeting times. All meetings of the entire taskforce are open to the public.
  • The members of the taskforce have changed.
  • A Facebook page and website have been developed. Working groups to collect content and plan publicity and events have been working.
  • November 2018 — A kickoff event was held to mark the founding of Smithton, a settlement which moved due to a lack of water and renamed itself Columbia.
  • Here’s a pdf of the speech Mayor Brian Treece gave at the event which outlines the founding of Smithton.
  • February 2018 — Members to the taskforce to plan the celebration for Columbia’s 200th anniversary were named in February 2018.
  • December 2017 –A resolution creating the taskforce approved by city council. It outlined the purpose and plans of the group.

Sparkle or sputter? It’s up to you.

Here’s the greatest danger to the celebration of Columbia’s bicentennial: You. Yup. If you don’t get involved, it won’t be the celebration we all want.

Every person on the taskforce and the working groups is a volunteer. The History Working Group, of which I’m a member, is open to ideas and volunteers.

Got something, someone, someplace that should be remembered as part of the celebration? Let me know here, go to the website and sign up or check out the Facebook page.

The History Working Group meets at 5 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month in City Hall Conference Room C. Or send me an email. A tweet. A text message. A smoke signal. (Just kidding about the smoke signal.)

Columbia’s history is all about you.


CoMo200, Get involved, National Register of Historic Places

Seeking S. K. Cho, a downtown surprise

I love historical surprises, like the one I found today. And now I’m on the trail for S.K. Cho, whoever she or he might be. If you know who this 1930s person was or is, I’d love to hear from you.

Yes, I’m a government docs nerd and today, I was re-reading a 2006 National Register of Historic Places document. It covers, “Parts of 7th, 8th, 9th, E. Broadway, Cherry, Hitt, Locust, and E. Walnut Street.” 

I decided to make the information on the report more accessible by typing out the lists of addresses and owners or names of the building.

That’s when I stumbled onto this information: 912 E. Walnut; Cho, S.K. Building, ca. 1930. “A very small, two story, Craftsman style two-part commercial block, with a flat roof and brick walls. It has a small hipped hood along the front and side roofline and a set of three windows in a single second floor opening. The 1/1 windows are newer. The storefront opening consists of a single doorway connected to a display window — the wall of the building runs beneath the display window in lieu of a separate bulkhead. That opening is intack; the door and window are newer. This is the smallest two-part commercial block in the downtown area.”

Cho is a Korean or Japanese family name, according to Google, and I hope this building and this name is a way for me to peek into what seems to be a lesser known part of Columbia’s history — at least to me.

Asia calling 

Columbia has a long connection with Asia, including through the MU School of Journalism established in 1908. Walter Williams, founder of the school, helped found a journalism school at St. John University in Shanghai in 1928, according to this undated article about the Historic Francis Quadrangle on the MU campus.

While the Chinese connection is documented, the Korean or Japanese connections in Columbia seem less visible to me.

That’s where you come in.

Why this matters now

Columbia has a multitude of communities within it and many of them often go unreported, unnoticed or simply overlooked.

The Korean community might be one such community. For example, I know that the Korean First Presyberian Church meets in the First Presbyterian Church at 16 Hitt Street. I know there is a Baptist Korean Church.

But I don’t know the story of the Korean or other Asian communities in Columbia.

I hope you do and you might be willing to share that or step up to tell it because in 2021, Columbia will be celebrating its bicentennial and it’s important that everyone’s story gets told to celebrate this city’s vibrant existence.

How can I get involved?

You have three ways to get involved.

  • Reply to this post or comment on Facebook Comohistoricplaces with the information you know about any community you think should be covered for our 2021 celebration.
  • Contact the CoMo200 folks.
  • Attend the CoMo200 History Working Group meeting. There we’ll be sorting out how to create Columbia’s history. The Working Group meets at 5 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month room C in City Hall.

Are there any other overlooked groups? Are there other stories waiting to be told? It’s your turn. Tell your community’s story.



Black History, CoMo200, Events, University of Missouri, Women

I’m obnoxious. Here’s why

And I want you to get on the same bandwagon I’m on — working to get black history included in our upcoming 2021 bicentennial celebration of Columbia, Missouri.

In fact, I don’t just want you to get involved, I need you to get involved because a lot of history, black and otherwise, hasn’t made the history books. Or any books.

When Brent Gardner, chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning, kicked off the group’s work, the first thing he did was outline the goals of the group. And the first goal was to be inclusive. (Insert my joyous YES! here.)

This is where you come in. Do you know someone who hasn’t made the history books? Perhaps a person of color who made history but hasn’t gotten the media or history coverage he or she deserves? Maybe a woman? We all know J.W. “Blind” Boone. Some of us know who Ann Hawkins Gentry is. But who were the people who immigrated here during the various waves of new citizens? A friend of mine lives in a house once owned by Hungarian immigrants. What is their story?

This is where you come in

I’m a member of the CoMo200 History Working Group and our charge is to develop a list of people who should be lauded.

Our group meets the third Tuesday of the month in City Hall. This month its March 19. The meeting is open to anyone who wants to help.

Can’t attend but still have ideas or names of people who have been missed in the mainstream narrative? Send them to me. Leave a comment. Send a smoke signal. We need your input because we it’s all of our history, not just those who made the first few rounds of the official narrative.

Yes, I’m obnoxious.

Some might say I’m persistent. Either way, I’m OK with that since it’s for a good cause and I’ve gotten results. What’s the cause and what has been the results?

Everywhere I go, I tell people I’m looking for those who are missing from history so they can be recognized in the upcoming 2021 Columbia bicentennial celebration.

Everywhere. Like when I attended an event for the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture founded by Adam Saunders, Dan Soetaert and Bobby Johnson. While chatting with Saunders, I mentioned my mission. The center helps people garden within the city and also donates significant amounts of produce to the local food pantry.

Then Feb. 26, 2019, an article written by Billy Polansky of Urban Ag was published in the Columbia Daily Tribune. Coincidence or results? Who cares. I now know about one more person who belongs in our history, but might have been missed.

Maybe you missed it, too.

Here’s a link to an article about Henry Kirklin. In case you don’t want to click to the article, Kirklin was born in 1858 as a Boone County slave, and freed when he was 5. He went on to found his own business selling fruits, vegetables and plant starts. He also taught at MU’s horticulture department, even though because of the laws at the time, he couldn’t go inside any of the university buildings. Instead, he taught white students about pruning and propagation outside.

Kirklin has a page at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

But how many other people have we missed? I have missed out on knowing about?

Tell me. I want to learn about the people who didn’t make the history books, the people that surprise us. That’s what I want to be the lasting mark of our city’s 2021 bicentennial.

Tell me, who’s missing from our history?





CoMo200, Events, Get involved, Uncategorized

Six ways to get involved in Missouri’s bicentennial

This article published Feb. 13 in the California Democrat outlines six ways to get involved in helping Missouri mark its 200th anniversary in 2021.

Get quilting! — One quilt block per county will be put together to create a Missouri Bicentennial Quilt. Learn more here. The deadline is Sept. 2.

Got pictures? — I know you have a shoebox full of great photos of Missouri. Time to sort them out. The Missouri State Historical Society is looking for 200 good photos. Learn more here.

A penny for history — School kids are being asked to collect pennies to help fund conservation efforts to of founding documents. This is a project of the Missouri Humanities Council. Learn more here. So far, there are only schools in Cape Girardeau and Kansas City list.

What makes a community a community? — If you’ve got ideas about what makes your Missouri community unique, this is the project for you. Groups and individuals are being asked to “document local traditions, creative expressions, meaningful place and organizations and institutions of significance, the article explains. Learn more here.

Missouri Encyclopedia — What bothers me the most about living in Missouri is how cool our state is and how few people seem to know that. This project is a step in the right direction. This is a project to create a Missouri encyclopedia. There are guidelines for writers and here’s an example of an article. This project really needs our local historians. For gosh sakes, Annie Fisher isn’t even listed … yet. Here’s your chance to touch the future and show people the Show-Me State.



CoMo200, Events

Catch up on CoMo 200 news

Celebrating Columbia’s founding got started on Nov. 11, 2018, marking the founding of Smithton. What’s Smithton and why are we celebrating it?

Smithton was Columbia’s predecessor.

  • It was founded in 1818 by the Smithton Co., which had 35 shareholders and purchased about 3,000 acres of land.
  • In 1821, the settlers decided to the Flat Branch for easier access to water and the name of the small, growing settlement was changed to Columbia.

On Nov. 11, 2018, Columbia gathered to celebrate the founding of Smithton. Here’s a collection of news coverage of the event.

CoMo200, Events, Get involved

CoMo200 website kicks off

The city’s upcoming 200th anniversary is for real now! A CoMo200 celebration is set for November 2018 (details to be announced soon) and Columbia’s CoMo200 website is live.

The site features a series of photographs and some information in the categories of History, Projects & Events, Get Involved, About and a search engine.

Here are some screenshots of the page:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Columbia, Missouri was founded first as Smithton in 1818, then moved a few blocks west and renamed Columbia in 1821. Boone County was founded in 1820, according to the Boone County Government site.

Here is some recent coverage about the upcoming bicentennial celebrations.

    • Aug. 28, 2018 — Mayor’s Task Force plans topographic survey for Flat Branch park extension. Source: Columbia Missourian, written by Clare Roth. Summary: The task force to plan the celebrations for Columbia’s bicentennial will have a survey conducted to plan an extension of the Flat Branch Park for the celebration. The article also notes how the survey will be funded. The park extension will add .6 of an acre to the already existing 2.75-acre park, the article notes. The park expansion will also involve uncovering the Flat Branch, which has been covered up from Providence to Broadway.  The articles notes that originally Columbia was founded in 1818 as Smithton. When water could not be accessed at its original location on what is now Garth and Walnut, the founders moved the town down to the Flat Branch for water in 1821 and renamed it Columbia. The task force referred to as CoMo200 also plans to hold a bicentennial kickoff in November 2018.
    • March 8, 2018 — Celebrating two centuries worth of Columbia history, Columbia Missourian, Vox magazine. This includes a selective timeline of CoMo’s last 200 years.
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.