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.

 

 

2010 photograph of 10 N. Fourth St. by Deanna Dikeman. Use on this website granted by Deanna Dikeman.
Black History, Events, Historical Homes, National Register of Historic Places, Notable Properties List

An exhibit, the Boone home and black history events

I love the Beatles. It’s hard for me to believe that it might be possible someday for people to not know the names of John, Paul, Ringo and George.

But that could happen and that’s what might have happened to the musician J.W. “Blind” Boone  (1864-1927) if the residents of Columbia and the city hadn’t saved the house at 10 N. Fourth St.

And you can take a peek at the inside of the home that took six long years to bring back from near demolition. From 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 and Thursday, Feb. 14, you can view copies of portraits of 19 portrait reproductions of members of the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Those portrayed include Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, Maxine Moore Waters, a U.S. Representative, and Jesse Louis Jackson Jr.

The works were painted by John F. Dyess, who has created works for national firms such as the National Geographic Museum and the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals.

Frankly, the exhibit is a two-fer — an opportunity to see portraits of family civil rights celebrities and an opportunity to see the Boone house that has been meticulously restored to literally reflect the wealth of one of the richest men in Columbia at the time.

Boone’s accomplishments stand out because he succeeded against the odds. Boone was the offspring of a former slave and a Union bugler. His eyes were removed at six months old to save him from “brain fever.” Then as a youth, he was sent to a school for the blind, but at one point the headmaster decided that instead of providing the blind with a fair, equitable education, the students would be taught to make brooms.

Yet, Boone’s natural talents and hard work helped him overcome the many obstacles he faced. He learned to play and compose music, touring throughout the U.S. and Canada for much of the year from the 1900s until about 1924, only three years before his death.

And it’s home that saves Boone’s story. But his isn’t the only story we need to hear about our black history. For more information on our history, see this notice from the Columbia Missourian.  It includes events such as a documentary on historically black colleges and universities, a lecture on how the enslaved undermined slavery and a local leadership panel discussion with Inclusive Impact Institute Director Nikki McGruder, First Ward City Councilman Clyde Ruffin and Stephens trustee Anita K. Parran.

 

 

Black History, Events, National Register of Historic Places

Grand opening of historic home of $19.5 million musician set for Sept. 18

The dedication of the home of a musician who traveled from 1880-1913 performing about 7,200 concerts is set for 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 10 N. Fourth St.

The musician earned about $19.5 million dollars in his lifetime, an amount calculated using information in the National Register of Historic Places document on the house and MeasuringWorth.com, a website designed to calculate value of currency.

The musician was J.W. “Blind” Boone and his story can be viewed from multiple perspectives. He overcame racism, poverty and even trickery to become a successful musician.

Even his home was nearly lost. And now, on Sunday, after years of work from volunteers and city expenditures, will be dedicated and opened to the public.

Note on the calculations: Information in the National Register of Historic Places document states he earned $150 to $600 per concert and performed about 7,200 concerts. Using $150 per concert for 7,200 concerts, his earning would have been $1.1 million. Using MeasuringWorth.com, a website designed to calculate value of currency, that amount would be worth $19.5 million in 2015.

News Release:

The City of Columbia has issued a press release on the event and it is reprinted here with permission:

Contact: Clyde Ruffin

President, John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation

573-424-8222

Dedication, grand opening of J.W. “Blind” Boone Home scheduled Sept. 18

COLUMBIA, MO (September 15, 2016) – On Sunday, Sept. 18 the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation will host the dedication and grand opening of the newly restored J.W. “Blind” Boone Home. The event will be held at the home, 10 N. Fourth St., from 2 to 4 p.m. with light refreshments provided after the program.

John William “Blind” Boone, born in 1864, overcame blindness, poverty, and discrimination to become a nationally famous concert pianist and composer. Boone helped to merge African-American folk music with the European classical tradition, a fusion that opened the way for ragtime, jazz, boogie-woogie and much more.

“Even before the Great Scott Joplin, Boone was busy evolving the first true ‘made in America’ genre of music: Ragtime! It became America’s gift to the world,” said Lucille Salerno, emeritus board member of the Foundation and organizer of the former Blind Boone Jazz Festival.

The home was built between 1888-1892 by John Lange Jr. as wedding present for his sister Eugenia Lange and Boone. It serves as a monument to the individual genius and generosity of Boone but it also represents the historic African-American community as a whole — its struggles and accomplishments. The home’s location on Fourth Street is one of the few physical remnants of the community African-Americans built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The effort to preserve Boone’s home is important, in part, because it is one of the few surviving reminders of the days when Fourth Street was the heart of Columbia’s African-American neighborhood,” said Greg Olson, a member of the Foundation. “At a time when the city, like much of the nation, was deeply segregated, Blind Boone was that rare individual who seemed to have the ability to bring together Columbia citizens of all races.”

The home was purchased by the City of Columbia in 2000 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Renovations to the home included interior restoration, minor exterior repairs and landscaping. The project was approved by City Council on June 3, 2013 and the City portion was paid for with surplus funds from fiscal year 2012. The estimated cost for the City was $326,855 with a $16,500 donation from the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation.

The Foundation was organized in 1997; for more information, visit this link: http://blindboonehome.com/.

Events, Historical Homes, National Register of Historic Places, Tours

Reincarnation, historic homes and a free festival

Did you ever notice that anyone who talks about a past life was always a princess or a pharaoh? Yeah, me too.

But I’m firmly convinced that if I did have a past life it was lived as a common laborer or simple farm wife. That’s why I’ll be in the Ryland House as a volunteer at this weekend’s free Heritage Festival.

The Heritage Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18 at Historic Nifong Park, 3700 Ponderosa St. This free event will include demonstrations, dancing, crafts and … yes! Tours of the buildings at the Village at Boone Junction, a sweet little collection of Boone County historic buildings including the Ryland House.

The Ryland House was built around 1880 and moved to the Junction in 2005. It’s a small place, about 800 square feet and was originally owned by a well off farm family, William and Maggie Ryland. They farmed about 358 acres near Sturgeon.

The tour of the house won’t last long — it’s only three rooms. Yes, despite the fact that the family that owned this house had a nice sized, well-run farm, their house consisted of three rooms, a large kitchen, a bedroom, and a parlor used mainly when visitors came by.

I won’t be in the parlor during my time volunteering in the Ryland House. I’ll be in the kitchen, where I’m sure my ancestors and any former incarnations of myself would have been. And you can come visit me there, too, on Sunday morning.

But what if you were a princess or someone wealthy in a past life. No worries. You’ll be able to get a peek at the life of those better off in Boone County during a tour of the Maplewood House.

The fine two-story house was the home of Lavinia Lenoir and Dr. Frank G. Nifong. It was built by Miss Lavinia’s father, Slater Ensor Lenoir around 1877, and the nine-room house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Maplewood, unlike the Ryland House, features a music room, a dining room, several bedrooms as well as a parlor, a kitchen and even a maid’s or sewing room.

So no matter what your inclination is about a past life, in the present you can straddle past and present at the Heritage Festival this weekend.

 

Apartments, demolition, Historical Homes, National Register of Historic Places

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.

Black History, Churches, National Register of Historic Places, Sacred Spaces

Civil War to today reflected in Second Missionary Baptist Church

A historic building helps society recall its history, as demonstrated by this magazine article on the 150-year-history of Second Missionary Baptist Church, now at Fourth and Broadway.

Why say it is now at Fourth and Broadway? At one time, Fourth Street was called River Street for the Flat Branch waterway that now runs under Fourth Street, according to at National Register of Historic Places document that outlines the history of the adjacent J.W. “Blind” Boone home.

The article is headlined “Second Missionary Baptist Church reflects o 150 years of rich history,” and was written by Lauren Rutherford and published on April 7, 2016 in Vox magazine.

The piece explains the importance of the church: It housed and houses a community that has endured the insidious lasting harms of slavery and one that has also endured, fought and won many battles in the fight for civil rights. For example, the Rev. Clyde Ruffin helped spearhead an effort to place a tombstone at the grave of a man who was lynched in 1923. The church has been the staging ground of civil rights efforts as well.

This article demonstrates the purpose of historic buildings and how to save historic buildings. First, the purpose of historic buildings is so as a society, we are reminded of our history, good and bad. Second, saving a historic building requires that the building has a use.

Black History, Historical Homes, National Register of Historic Places

Why historic homes matter

Why should we save historic homes? Why do I care about historic homes? Because those walls of wood or brick encapsulate the stories of the people who lived in them, stories which could become lost without those nail and mortar reminders.

How do I know this? A recent article headlined “Ceremony celebrates black Union veteran,” published in the Nov. 9, 2015 Columbia Daily Tribune outlines the placement of a headstone in the Columbia Cemetery. The writer Rudi Keller outlines how Wallace Lilly lived — died, buried without a headstone and nearly forgotten.

Lilly deserves to be remembered. A former slave, he fought as a soldier in the Union army, enlisting on April 13, 1864, notes Keller. All soldiers who fought for their country, many would say, should be remembered. Lilly was promoted twice before being mustered out and then worked to establish the Union veterans group and a black Masonic lodge.

The local Sons of Union Veterans spent four years researching the former slave, the article notes. He was in an unmarked grave since his death in 1932 until this week. The man’s life and memory could have been lost, as he’d died without children and other relatives would be hard pressed to find his grave. As the article notes, “Census records don’t give the names of slaves…”

But because he served and because there are Union soldier organizations and members who care, the name of Wallace Lilly lives on.

Math tells us historic homes matter

Contrast that with a house that exists and so we have the story of another black man and his success. Many in Columbia know the name of J.W. “Blind” Boone because his home remains on Fourth Street, awaiting the completion of its renovation. In his heyday, he was an internationally renowned musician, playing and composing ragtime and classical music. It’s estimated he and his entourage played 7,200 to 8,400 concerts from 1880-1915. The National Register of Historic Places document that outlines why the house which marks his life should be on this national register notes that it’s estimated Boone and his crew made $150 to $600 per concert. The math tells me that this would equal roughly $23.3 million in 2014 earning power, according to Measuring Worth, a website that converts historic dollars to modern dollars.

Born in 1864 to a former slave, Boone died in 1927. His home changed hands and fell into disrepair. At one time, it even looked like his his home might be demolished. But without that house, the story of the multi-millionaire musician might have been lost.

So why should we care about his story? Or the story of Wallace Lilly? Because without these stories of people who overcame adversity, our world would be a poorer one. Not in dollars but in spirt.

And that’s why I think historic homes are important. They keep the stories of our ancestors who strove and succeeded alive for all of us.