See art and the Niedermeyer Apartments

I’m a historic voyeur, always looking for opportunities to peek inside the historic buildings I write about. Surprisingly, not everyone welcomes me into their home or building to see the historic inside. Sometimes I find real estate videos or photos, but now here’s a unique chance to see the Neidermeyer.

From 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, there will be a pop-up show featuring the work of 10 UMC artists, according to a Coming Up notice in the Nov. 27, 2017 Columbia Daily Tribune.

Yes! It’s a winner. Art and history!

1907 photograph, when the Niedermeyer Apartments were the Gordon Hotel. Photo from the Missouri State Historical Society, with the notation of no known copyright restrictions.

1907, when the Niedermeyer Apartments were the Gordon Hotel. Photo from the Missouri State Historical Society, with the notation of no known copyright restrictions.

But it’s also a miracle story. If you’re new around Columbia, you might not remember 2013 fight for the Niedermeyer’s existence.

At that time, there were rumors, then plans, then news that a company was going to buy the Niedermeyer, raze it and build a student-focused apartment building there. This Feb. 10, 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune article,  “If walls could talk”, outlines the history of the building.

The article written by Andrew Denney states it was the site of the Columbia Female Academy from 1837 until about 1854. The building was rented out as a residence from 1865 until 1895. From 1895 until about 1911, it was operated as a hotel. For a period of time, it housed the MU Department of Domestic Science. In 1921, it reopened as the Niedermeyer Apartments, the article continues.

The Niedermeyer was saved from destruction by Nakhle Asmar, who planned to buy and renovate the buildings, according to this Columbia Daily Tribune March 13, 2013 article, “Buyer plans to start with basic fixes.”

This destruction and construction boom even caught the eye of the New York Times, which published this article on June 13, 2013, “In Student Housing, Luxuries Overshadow Studying.”  In summary, it highlights the downtown student housing boom, and includes statements from various people expressing concern about the area being overbuilt, how students may or may not be spoiled by all the luxuries at the new housing, as well as one comment which called the new apartments “soulless” compared to the Niedermeyer Apartments.

Here’s another way you can get a peek, even without attending Friday’s event. This blog put together by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Department and City of Columbia has this post on the Niedermeyer with lots of inside photos!

You can get a view of the outside and some history in this City of Columbia video made to commemorate the building’s addition to the 2013 Most Notable Properties list. Forward to 3:03 and watch until 4:42, unless you really like the music.

Here’s the Columbia Missourian article about the Neidermeyer when it was named to the 2013 list.

But you don’t have to rely on newspaper articles or videos to see the Neidermeyer on the inside with Friday’s event. See you there?

Call to action to save an economic engine

The federal Historic Tax Credit, is on the chopping block, yet that might not make economic sense, according to the Rutgers Univesity’s Annual Report on the Economic Impact of Historic Tax Credit for FY 2015.

Those seeking to rally opposition include Debbie Sheals, a local preservation consultant, and state and national nonprofits, Missouri Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition.

Here’s how you can get involved if you’re ready to take action:

Here’s a call to action from two nonprofits, the National Trust Community Investment Corp. and Missouri Preservation, headquartered in St. Louis. Here’s a factsheet, too.

Here’s a factsheet from the Historic Tax Credit Coalition and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

How do I know this isn’t fake news?

Why should you believe the Federal Historic Tax Credit is an economic engine?

Thinking critically and demanding proof is part of my job as a journalist. I look for information that comes from agencies and organizations that have “no dog in the fight,” — impartial researchers.

In this case, the research was done by Rutgers University in New Jersey. The university in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is employed by the National Park Service, and the university is independent of the National Park Service and won’t benefit from the results.

In addition, Rutgers is a valid research organization. It isn’t simply a back room in a foreign country.

What the report shows

In Fiscal Year 2015, the report shows, the Federal HTC $5 billion in spending yielded $4.8 billion in Gross Domestic Product. Yes, that’s a loss. But looking at the tax credit from its inception, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, the program has cost $120.8 billion but yielded $134.7 in GDP.

The report also notes that 55% of the certified rehabilitation projects in FY 2015 were located in low and moderate income census tracks.

Take a look at the report: Rutgers Univesity’s Annual Report on the Economic Impact of Historic Tax Credit for FY 2015.

Local example

In journalism, news values include proximity. We humans seem to care more about what’s near us or who we know.

Here is a link to an article I wrote in 2010 about the renovation — and tax credits for the project — of the Nowell building on Walnut Street by John Ott. He states clearly that projects like this depend on tax credits, yet those same tax credits hardly make him wealthy, he said. The tax credits make renovations economically possible.

Here’s more information about the article I wrote that was published in the Columbia Business Times.

Notable Properties: Historic Renovation Boosts Community Commerce — What if historic renovation made economic sense? Many say it does including Richard King, who operates The Blue Note, a thriving live music venue housed in the first building named to the Notable Properties List by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. The article can also be viewed on the Columbia Business Times website.

But don’t take my word for it — think critically and demand proof — and feel free to do your own research. And let me know what you learn. As a journalist, I can never have too much information.

A historic note on #MeToo

The recent news about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood’s outrage about his sexual assaults shows news affects people even when it happens far away.

In 1855, 26 miles from Columbia, Missouri, a slave woman was hanged after she killed her white owner who had been raping her for years. The headline merely says a Missouri woman but in reality, it was a woman with a name, Celia, a woman who lived about 26 miles from where I live.

This account states puts the first rape even closer, stating the first assault took place nine miles south of Fulton. That place the attack at about 14 miles from my home. Closer than all the assaults of Weinstein.

This Oct. 19, 2017, Washington Post article describes how Celia lost her life when she refused one more assault and killed her attacker. She was found guilty of killing the man who owned her by a jury of 12 white men.

I’m certain this news reached Columbia when it took place in 1855. The same way people certainly knew about the attacks of Weinstein and others of his ilk. And that’s why the #MeToo is so powerful. We are no longer alone. We are no longer powerless. And we are no longer going to be tried or silenced.

Finally, this is why ColumbiaHistoricHomes.com and our history is so important. If we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Let’s make #MeToo part of our past and not our present or future.

 

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.

The arts — and history — aren’t dead

Musician J.W. “Blind” Boone. Singer Jane Froman. Both of these artistic luminaries and seven other historical figures from Columbia’s past will come alive through four-minute monologues held during 1 to 4 p.m. on May 29 at their graves in Columbia Cemetery on Broadway.

This event was highlighted in this “Living History event planned for Memorial Day,” article by Rudi Keller, published May 13, 2017 in the Columbia Tribune.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery, which also has a Facebook page. The monologues were written by Chris Campbell, executive director of the Boone County Historical Society.

So who else will you get to see come to life – with a consciousness of who they were, their current deceased status and today’s events?

  • Ann Hawkins Gentry, Columbia postmistress from 1838-1865.
  • George Swallow, Missouri’s first state geologist and MU faculty member
  • John Lathrop, president of MU twice.
  • Sgt. Wallace Lilly, a slave who enlisted in the Union Army in 1864 for his freedom.
  • Luella St. Clair Moss, Columbia College president from 1893 to 1920.
  • James S. Rollins, a man considered the father of MU.
  • Walter Williams, founder of the MU School of Journalism and MU president from 1931 to 1935.

April 1 new Bull Pen salvage date

The salvage date for the Bull Pen Cafe has been pushed back to 8 a.m. Saturday, April 1, according to this update from Pat Fowler, a member of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission

Fowler posted on Facebook, “More information following. Stay tuned. You are cordially invited to attend, tell stories, help us remove the seating and the barn wood inside the sales ring. Bring tools, wear goggles. You get the picture.”

As previously posted, Fowler is looking for help to salvage parts of the Bull Pen Cafe, a local eatery that was open for 60 years prior to its closing in 2007. Salvage efforts are planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 25. The Bull Pen is at 2310 Business Loop, Columbia, Missouri.

She and the commission are also looking for stories about the Bull Pen Cafe. For more information, contact Fowler at fowlerpatj@gmail.com, call or text (573) 256-6841.

As Fowler wrote on her Facebook page, and I’m posting her with her permission:

“You may have heard the Bull Pen Cafe will be demolished in the coming weeks. If you grew up in Columbia and attended a livestock auction, you’ll remember the amphitheater seating immediately behind the restaurant. We’d like to remove as many of those seats as we can muster volunteers for. There are also some other cool amenities inside that space we’d like to remove and put in the salvage barn for an upcoming city sponsored sale. Message me here, or on the HPC FB page if you can help. There are lots of great stories to ‘show and tell’ about the Bull Pen Cafe. We’d like to hear them.”

The upcoming demolition was covered in this March 10, 2017 Columbia Missourian article headlined, “Bull Pen Cafe building will face the wrecking ball.”

Here’s a link to a July 20, 2008 Columbia Missourian article about the Bull Pen. The headline is, “Cafe irreplaceable to regulars.

 

Under your feet tour Saturday, Oct. 15

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

Love history? Love knowing about what other people miss? Here’s your chance to learn about history literally under your feet and to learn about something most people never think about — the building techniques and materials of brick streets.

A free tour is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, and will be conducted by Patrick Earney, a professional engineer and member of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission. The tour will start from the City Hall Key Sculpture at the corner of Eighth and Broadway, 701 E. Broadway.

See you there – wait? You can’t go? Here’s some information about the event and Columbia’s brick streets.

Tour information

Brick streets worth saving, Columbia Tribune, Dec. 1, 2012.

City of Columbia brick street background information, Oct. 21, 2015. Complete with a cool map!

From this site, a brief history, including some financial information and a bit about Columbia Brick and Tile, one of the eight brickworks Columbia, Missouri once boasted.

Finally – a blast from the past. This February 1994 report discusses the brick streets of the East Campus as an area where University of Missouri faculty once lived. The report includes historic maps. It’s a long download, even with a fast connection, but a great read.  A Final Report of Survey of the East Campus Neighborhood, Columbia, Missouri, Osmund Overby, Howard Marshall, Scott Myers, Debbie Sheals, Ray Brassieur.