Apply now! Preservation conference scholarships available until April 9 close of business

I wanted to headline this as free money because it sounds so exciting to me.

Turns out there are 10 scholarships still available for the 2018 Missouri Preservation Conference set for May 2-4 in Sedalia. You have until the end of business on Monday, April 9 to apply. Go here to find the link to the application.

Here is all the info on the conference itself.

So what’s included? 

This is a $280 value. According to a recent email from Missouri Preservation the scholarships will cover “registration, meals, snacks, field sessions and networking opportunities, and … reimbursement for hotel expenses for the three-day conference.”

The scholarships are available to any citizen within a Certified Local Government (CLG) and g

uess what — Columbia’s included. Here’s a list of all the CLGs.

OK, I’m going to be honest here. The application notes that first preference is for preservation consultants, commissioners and local preservation staff members but it also includes citizens so I say go for the scholarship. I’m going to apply myself because nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

So why should you go?

dianna2-001I don’t have to tell you what thrills me. I’ve been blogging about historic places for eight years, so this workshop caught my eye: “House story: How to Research Sites and Structures.” But the three-day conference is filled with presentations ranging from working with real estate agents to engaging public investment and protection.

If those presentations aren’t enough to get you to Sedalia, the keynote speaker is Briana Grosicki, of PlaceEconomics. It’s a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that, as the website states, “works at the nexus of economic and historic preservation.” Now who isn’t concerned with money these days? She’s the head of research at PlaceEconomics, so she’ll be talking facts and figures, not opinions and wishes.

Gotta go and make out my application for a scholarship! See you in Sedalia?

CoMo is turning 200!

Guess what?! Columbia, Missouri and Boone County, Missouri will soon be celebrating 200 years! Columbia, Missouri was founded first as Smithton in 1818, then moved a few blocks east and renamed Columbia in 1821. Boone County was founded in 1820, according to the Boone County Government site.

To plan festivities to mark the bicentennial,  Columbia Mayor Brian Treece has appointed a Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning. The task force Brent Gardner, Pat Fowler, Nate Brown, Dr. Eryca Neville, Dr. Anne Deaton, Chris Campbell, Tom Mendenhall, Deb Sheals and Ann Rogers.

The next meeting of the task force will be at 7 p.m. on March 28, 2018, in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 South Providence. Here’s the agenda, which includes a link to a draft of the minutes of the last meeting, background materials and a list of festivity ideas.

The meeting is open to the public, but Task Force Chair Brent Gardner said the main purpose of these first few meetings is to get organized and educated.

Goals for the celebration 

While the task force is still getting organized, three goals were set at the group’s first meeting on Feb. 28, 2018.

  • It will be inclusive of all of Columbia, said Gardner — the wealthy, those without money, young, old, black, white, immigrants — everyone.
  • The second goal of the celebrations to be planned is that they will indeed be celebrations, fun and entertaining.
  • The third goal, said Deb Sheals, Gardner’s co-chair, will be to leave a mark, to create some kind of enduring item. As Sheals put it, she wants to give CoMo a “big, fat present for turning 200.” That “present” could be anything from creating lesson plans for grade and high school children to a piece of artwork in the Flat Branch area, which is where Columbia got its start.

At the inaugural meeting, ideas sprang from every member of the group along with ways about how to approach celebrating the city and county’s 200 years. Should the celebration revolve around 200 amazing Columbia people? Or should the festivities mark an accomplishment for each of the 200 years being marked? Should there be contests? An official coin or stamp? A memorial book?

How to get involved

The task force is working on creating a website portal where, as task force member Pat Fowler put it, people can read along with the task force members as it gathers information and educates itself.

There is a proposal to create a Facebook page and dedicated emails for the task force members to the public can contact them.

For now, the meetings of the task force, like all governmental meetings, are open to the public. The meetings will be held in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road. The meeting schedule can be checked on the city’s calendar here.

Here is the schedule of the meetings:

    • April 25
    • May 23
    • June 27
    • July 25
    • Aug. 22
    • Sept. 26
    • Oct. 24
    • Nov. 28
    • Dec. 26

Who is on the task force?

  • Brent Gardner, chair,
  • Pat Fowler, Historic Preservation Commission,
  • Nate Brown, MU’s Reynolds Journalism Institute,
  • Dr. Eryca Neville, Columbia Public Schools
  • Dr. Anne Deaton, University of Missouri
  • Chris Campbell, Boone County History & Culture Center
  • Tom Mendenhall, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Deb Sheals, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Ann Rogers
  • Amy Schneider, City of Columbia staff liaison

Black women fighting for equality

Strong women fighting for equality isn’t new. At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, MU History Professor Keona K. Ervin will discuss her book, “Gateway to Equality: Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis.”

The event will be held in Fisher Auditorium in 88 Gannett Hall.

According to an announcement from the State Historical Society of Missouri, one of the sponsors of the event, her talk will cover these historic times:

“From the Great Depression to the 1960s, the city of St. Louis experienced significant decline as its population and industrial base stagnated while its suburbs expanded. To combat ingrained racism, crippling levels of poverty, and substandard living conditions, black women workers in St. Louis formed a community-based culture of resistance, fighting for fair and full employment, a living wage, affordable housing, political leadership, and personal dignity… and … effectively grounded working-class struggle in movements for racial justice and set the stage for the defining campaigns of the explosive 1960s.”

The lecture by Ervin is part of a series is sponsored by the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Center for Missouri StudiesUniversity of Missouri’s Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity; and the Missouri Humanities Council.

A doctorate in historic preservation?

A recent news release proclaimed Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation was offering the United States’ first Ph.D. program in historic preservation. Yet, a search reveals the University of Texas at Austin has already been offering doctorate study in architecture and historic preservation.

 

Either way, an opportunity to learn about historic preservation is available much closer to home — right here in Missouri and without the graduate fees.

On March 26-28, 2018, Main Street Now will hold a conference of the National Main Street Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Information on the event states that it brings together “doers, makers, and innovators to address challenges and take advantage of opportunities facing 21st-century downtowns and commercial districts.”

Worried you’re not Main Street Now material? The website states the event attracts professionals in preservation community revitalization … and volunteers. That pretty much could include anyone. Note the price tag isn’t low. Attending one day is $325, and there are half-day deals as well.  Either way, it’s still much cheaper than graduate school.

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.