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.

The Blue Note and Ragtag/Uprise/Hitt Records buildings honored

This just in — the buildings that house The Blue Note, Ragtag Cinema, Uprise Bakery and Hitt Records will be honored with a new award.

According to this Columbia Missourian March 28, 2017 article, Brent Gardner is creating Cornerstones to highlight downtown businesses and buildings.

The article states that the building at 10 Hitt St. was once the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant, built in 1935. The site where The Blue Note is now, 17 N. Ninth St., was where the Star theatre was before the Varsity Theatre was built by Tom C. Hill, who also owned the Hall Theatre, according to the article.

Gardner, the article reports, said an event to celebrate the two businesses could be held in July.

Gardner is a former member of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, which overseas the city’s Most Notable Properties list and celebration.

Why not nominate your home for Notable Properties designation?

Worried about restrictions? Think your home isn’t grand enough? Fearful of extra taxes? Shrinking from publicity? Fear not.

If these are reasons you are avoiding or someone you know is putting off nominating a property to the Columbia’s Notable Properties list, that’s balderdash.

Modest homes like a Cape Cod at 1252 Sunset Drive has been named to the list. Worried you’ll have to keep up appearances? Bah. The house on the list at Garth and Worley, a shotgun house, isn’t even at that spot anymore! Concerned you won’t be able to do as you like with your house? The Annie Fisher house at 2911 Old Highway 63 South was torn down in 2011, without nary a petition or protest to mark its passing.

2911 Old 63 S., Annie Fisher House, demolished 2011

2911 Old 63 S., Annie Fisher House, demolished 2011

Here’s a brochure about what it means to have a property listed.

So am I going to nominate my home? Yes, I just might, but it might not meet the criteria. My house is older than 50 years, at least part of it. An addition was added at some point, but this opportunity gives me a chance to do some digging, and as a journalist, that digging is what I love.

It might not meet the other criteria such as whether anything of local, regional or national note ever took place here, unless I can count starting this blog with its 43,488 followers. As for the unusual or notable architectural qualities, I think as a ranch style, one of the country’s most popular forms, that might make it worthy.

Think you might want to give it a try? Here’s the application form.

With less than two months for nominations to Columbia’s Notable Property list, this article in the Columbia Missourian frets that only one property has been submitted for consideration.

So what is holding you back?

 

Got ideas? Hall Theatre hits 100, faces uncertain future

History, like aging, isn’t for sissies. As this Aug. 28-29, 2016 article outlines, the Hall Theatre is facing an uncertain future as it hits 100. One man, Don Mueller, wants to do something about it.

Now, the 1916 theatre is vacant. Owned by a Stan Kroenke firm, TKG Hall Theatre LLC, it has been vacant since Panera left downtown. So what if Kroenke is worth roughly $8 billion according to Forbes magazine and buys and moves sports teams. It’s up to us, Columbia, to look for ways to keep the historic downtown we’ve got.

So I ask, got ideas? Because a repurposed building is a preserved building. Been to Orr Street Studios? You wouldn’t have wanted to go there in 2005, before Mark Timberlake bought the warehouses and renovated them. Been to Sager Braudis Gallery on Walnut Street? That was a scruffy part of Columbia before John Ott of Alley A Realty renovated it. Now it houses luxury apartments, Wilson’s and a gallery. Scroll down to 2009 and take a peek at the before and after on this page.

This isn’t ancient history. Ott renovated the former grocery warehouse in 2009, Timberlake took his chances on renovating the warehouses in 2005. You can also read more about Ninth Street theatre history in this article I wrote in 2010.

Stephen Daw wrote about it and Alex Scimecca photographed it for the Missourian’s Aug. 28-29, 2016 article. Now it’s our job to take the next step.

 

What are we going to do in 2016?

Got ideas? I’d love to hear them — and I’m sure Don Mueller and TKG Hall Theatre LLC would, too.

 

New old images of Eero Saarinen’s Firestone Baars Chapel at Stephens College

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Did you know there’s a bit of St. Louis in Columbia? The same designer, Eero Saarinen, who designed The Arch in St. Louis designed Stephens College’s Firestone Baars Chapel.

If you love before and after views, you are going to love this historic images released on June 17, 2016 by the State Historical Society of Missouri.

The seven images below are from the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Steinberg, Simon C. “Si” (1906-2002), Photograph Collection, 1938, 1950. (P0005) collection.

All seven images are from the May 22, 1950 groundbreaking.

The image above is a public domain image from Wikipedia.

Firestone Baars Chapel Groundbreaking

Firestone Baars Chapel Groundbreaking

Firestone Baars Chapel Groundbreaking

Firestone Baars Chapel Groundbreaking

Firestone Baars Chapel Groundbreaking

Firestone Baars Chapel Groundbreaking

Firestone Baars Chapel Groundbreaking

Background

Dedicated in 1957, Firestone-Baar Chapel at 1209 E. Walnut St. is a unique, nondenominational chapel. It was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis as well as other landmark buildings.

The chapel features a square plan and an entrance at each of the compass points. The Stephens College Campus Life-Student Handbook notes, “The chapel symbolizes commitment to individual spiritual development and worship. The chapel is used for meditation, religious services, vespers, weddings, memorials and campus programs.”

In 2002, the chapel was named to the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission’s Notable Properties Listing.

  • November 2013 — Columbia, The Beautiful by Morgan McCarty. Inside Columbia. Outlines the architectural finds in Columbia.

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Danger of demolitions

Any DIYer or carpenter can tell you the importance of the adage measure twice, cut once. That applies to demolitions, too.

In 2013, several buildings were demolished, including a 1905 historic home, to make way for the Hagan Scholarship Academy, a residential college preparatory school for rural students. Three years later, despite the worthy plan, there is only a vacant lot — and the irrevocable loss of several historic buildings.

It may stay that way for a while. In this May 23, 2016 article, Construction of Hagan school in central Columbia delayed for second time” Mark Farnen, a spokesperson for Dan Hagan, who is the behind the foundation which is funding the project, said the building is “still in the design stages.”

What happened

In 2013, an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune proclaimed, “Old Stephens buildings to make way for academy soon.” Perhaps the problem was with the word “soon.”

The buildings destroyed included the1905 Altis/Chandler House at 1404 E. Broadway, a loss noted in this 2013 city of Columbia report decrying the loss of historic properties in our recent frenzy of destruction. This picture shows it was no beauty prior to its destruction and was in need of renovation.

1404 E. Broadway, Altis/Chandler Home prior to the 2013 demolition. Named to Columbia's Notable Properties list in 2007. Image credit: FitzImages Photography/City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.

1404 E. Broadway, Altis/Chandler Home prior to the 2013 demolition. Named to Columbia’s Notable Properties list in 2007. Image credit: FitzImages Photography/City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.

 

To make way for the Hagan Scholarship Academy, Stephens College lost an auditorium, a 1948, 2,300-seat auditorium, not that the college seemed to regret it. A Dec. 11, 2012 article in the Columbia Missourian, “Students, officials at Stephens College react to property sales,” quotes the college’s marketing manager Rebecca Kline as saying the building wouldn’t be missed.

Yet, in the same article, a Stephens student, Kirsten Izzett called the building the “old Jesse,” referring to the University of Missouri’s Jesse Hall, an anchor of the university’s historic quad. This July 1, 2013 article in the Columbia Missourian noted the building had not been used in 20 years.

Hillcrest Hall, another building demolished, the article notes, was used as a residence hall since it was built in 1965.

Loss or progress?

I can’t denigrate Stephens College for selling the buildings to fund other projects.

I do take umbrage against  society’s country’s inability to reimagine buildings. While traveling in the United Kingdom in 2015, I saw churches turned into restaurants, bed and breakfasts, taverns and bookstores. In Europe, I know of a family who visits their old ancestor’s home in Germany which now includes the family’s old barn. I’ve seen pictures and you can’t tell it’s a house/barn combination.

In Columbia, we’re familiar with reusing buildings. At Columbia College, for example, Williams Hall in 1848 was the home of Dr. James H. Bennett, a leading Columbia physician, according to information provided by Columbia College as a part of the nomination process for the city’s Notable Properties list. “Williams Hall is the oldest college building in continuous use for educational purposes west of the Mississippi River,” according to the Columbia College Web site.

Perhaps when we finally see the true cost of demolition including the cost of filling up our landfill with building rubble and the loss of soul when an old building is gone, we as a society will choose differently.

For now, there’s a large vacant area on Broadway that we can only hope will someday house hopeful students on their way to college where I hope they’ll learn a better way to use our resources rather than rip down and dispose of buildings rather than reuse them.

Maplewood:14-foot walls, a $3 million heritage and a $14,400 grant

Fourteen-inch thick walls. Three gifts worth nearly $1 today. And now a $14,400 grant

Those numbers are part of the story of Maplewood, a 1977 historic home owned by the City of Columbia and managed by the Boone County Historical Society.

Maplewood was built by Columbia pioneer Slater Lenoir in 1877, the house has 14-inch thick brick walls. The house was a home for Lenoir’s child Lavinia Lenoir Nifong and her husband Frank Nifong from 1905 until their later years. Lavinia died in 1959, preceded by her husband in 1954.

You can look for those 14-inch thick walls if you like. The Boone County Historical Society offers tours by appointment Thursday – Sunday 12:30- 3:30 p.m. Special arrangements can be made for large groups. For information call 573-443-8936 or email at Chriscampbell@boonehistory.org

Where’s that $3 million?

The $3 million is a little harder to find.

The Nifongs also gave to two organizations what would total roughly $3 million in 2014 purchasing power dollars, according to a calculator on Measuring Worth.

In 1949, the Nifongs gave $100,000 toward a retirement home and in 1953, bequeathed another $100,000 for that purpose, for what now is Lenoir Woods. The Nifongs also gave what is now Boone Hospital Center, but was once Boone County Hospital.

“In 1953, the Nifongs gave $100,000.00 toward the construction of a wing, later named for them, at the Boone County Hospital. Finally, in 1953, the couple deeded the remainder of their farm to the Lenoir Memorial Home. Included in their gift were all the furnishings, antiques, works of art and memorabilia found in the house; all the associated outbuildings and contents; and all farm machinery and equipment,” states the National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Maplewood, which placed the house on the Register on March 13, 1979.

So now you know something that’s not easy to learn. Both the Lutheran Senior Services website that lists Lenoir Woods doesn’t reference the Nifongs, nor does the Boone Hospital Center.

Life moves on with $14,400

The City of Columbia has received a $14,400 grant from the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office. The city will work with the Boone County Historical Society, which operates the house to deal with water damage, structural concerns and electrical issues, according to the city publication, CitySource, Vol. 17, No. 5, May 2015.