Dangers of historical research

I started off my work day planning to post the news about the bed and breakfast at 606 S. College heading for closure in December, part of MU’s budget cutting efforts.

While this bed and breakfast is set to close, the East Campus Bed & Breakfast  opened recently. Here’s a link to its website.

When I started to research the now closed B&B, before I knew it, four hours had passed and I’d spent the time learning about the roots of Columbia, MU and the East Campus neighborhood. The work also yielded three government documents including this 1995 East Campus Neighborhood Historic District National Register of Historic Places document, this undated East Campus Survey city document,  and this 1994 document Final Report of A Survey of the East Campus Neighborhood, Columbia, Missouri, Phase One.

These documents are filled with photos, maps and the 1994 document includes some oral history. The oral history is interesting because it reveals people’s attitudes and opinions, some of which we’d find objectionable today.

Here’s the news on the closure in case you want to learn more, too, without the four-hour rabbit hole of research!

  • June 15, 2017 — The Gathering Place will close in December due to budget cuts at MU, Columbia Missourian. Summary: The bed and breakfast at 606 S. College will be closed by MU. It has been operating since 1996. It has been owned by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources since 2008. The article states that MU expects to save $150,000 per year by closing the bed and breakfast, which was to have provided experience for MU hospitality students. The article cites the bed and breakfast’s website as stating that the house was built by Cora Davenport in 1906 and has been used as a fraternity house for Lambda Chi Alpha, Alpha Gamma Rho, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Tau Gamma.

$1 billion in economic activity generated by historic preservation

Tax credits, including tax credits for historic preservation, have come under fire from time to time.

However, a recent newspaper article on historic preservation states, “Preserving historic buildings over the past decade has, directly and indirectly, accounted for more than $1 billion in economic activity in Columbia and helped to create thousands of jobs…”

The Sept. 4, 2012 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune by Andrew Denney outlined the results of a report conducted by Developing Strategies, a St. Louis consulting firm.

The report is titled: Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in Columbia, Missouri. You can find it at: http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Commissions/downloadfile.php?id=6304

The report was sponsored by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, funded in part by the City of Columbia and a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Office.

So why do a study on the economic effect of historic preservation? Because it is hard to measure the importance and value of historic buildings. No one can measure the value of a masterpiece, and so measuring the economic activity generated by historic preservation provides one way to measure the value of Columbia’s buildings, masterpieces in a way.

The report includes a wealth of information and one of the most valuable bits of information is on page 45 — a listing of historic tax credit projects and the expenditures for the projects. Tax credits have come under fire, but people often fail to notice things of importance about such programs. First, money must be spent before a firm or individual can receive a tax credit. Second, in order to qualify for the tax credit, the person or firm must conduct the preservation to the set standards, standards that can be more expensive than simple renovations. Finally, it is a tax credit — that means the person or firm receives part of the taxes paid credited. It does not mean they receive money or funding, it is simply credit on taxes already paid. The company or person has to spend a great deal of money beyond the taxes credited.

The list notes that a total of $80 million was spent on various projects — and $15 million in tax credits were awarded. This means a company or person spent at least $80 million, while the state simply credited or forgave a portion of the firm’s or individual’s taxes for a total of $15 million. No money was given away, some taxes were simply credited.

Take a look at the report yourself and see what you think of tax credits for historic preservation.

You can also read the newspaper articles about it including two editorials, one of which is clearly against the use of tax credits.

Personally, I think historic preservation makes sense. The home of Annie Fisher, Columbia’s first black entrepreneur, was recently demolished and the land will likely be used for apartments. While the owners of the land have the right to do what they like with the land, the loss of the history is priceless. No where else can you point to a house and say that’s where a former slave built a catering company that drew people from throughout the county, where a woman with no education built a restaurant reputed to include place settings for more than 1,000, and a woman once owned by another person was honored at a state fair for the work of her hands, beaten biscuits. It’s hard to get inspiration from yet another apartment building.

And while many people will drive a long distance to see a historic building such as Mt. Vernon or Monticello, I’ve never once heard of anyone driving a long way to see a new apartment building.

Annie Fisher’s rise from obscure to entrepreneur might have seemed to some impossible; just as saving her home ultimately came to be, but perhaps tax credits can make the possible much more likely.

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2012/sep/06/historic/

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2012/sep/04/study-looks-at-economic-effects-of-historic/

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2012/sep/16/preservation-studys-author-not-unbiased/

Money matters: Meeting on benefits of historic preservation

A billion, with a B. That’s how much historic preservation in Missouri contributes to the state’s gross state product  according to a 2002 by the Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers University.

Now, the city of Columbia is inviting the public to look over a study designed to tabulate how much local historic preservation benefits the city’s economy.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission will hold a public meeting about a study on the economic impact of historic preservation in Columbia, Missouri. The draft executive summary is available online here.

The meeting will be held in rooms 1A and 1B of City Hall at 701 E. Broadway in Columbia.

The draft executive summary includes a table that indicates $79.94 million has been reinvested in historic properties in Columbia since 2002, helping to support an estimated 800 jobs in the city as a result.

This research is being conducted in partnership with a Historic Preservation Fund Grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Office.

Here’s a link to a Columbia Tribune article on the upcoming meeting.

Teachers: There’s history in bricks and mortar

One of the things I love about learning about Columbia and Boone County’s historic places is finding new ways to use this information.

This article notes that teachers can use historic places such as those in Columbia and Boone County to teach history.

A walk through downtown Columbia would allow teachers to discuss the importance of taverns (places to gather), the changes in commerce (the former dime stores), the changes electricity caused (why the Daniel Boone Tavern had skylights), the changes in technology (the former movie palaces), the current challenges of urban development (alleys and drainage issues) and the politics of today (the city fathers helped build the Hamilton-Brown Shoe Factory and then gave it to the company).

The list could go on endlessly. Read the article below and find out what they’re doing in Sioux City.

http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_9b4835e9-17e5-5c5f-9078-7d331a974bd8.html

$15 million – Columbia’s Lucky Number

When Missouri’s legislature adjourned this spring it left intact the state’s Historic Tax Credit Program. Of course, the fight may not be over, the Missouri Preservation notes on its website.

Missouri Preservation notes the tax credit program can be thanked for roughly 43,000 jobs, $670,000 million in taxes and $2.9 billion in private investment, according the St. Louis University Study 2010.

Columbia benefited from the tax credit program to the tune of $15 million according to a document on the Missouri Preservation website, “Case Studies: Three Construction Projects in Columbia That Would Not Have Happened Without Historic Preservation Tax Credits.”

The document cites the following projects:

  • $2 million, 2007 renovation of the 1932 Coca Cola Bottling Company on Hitt Street, which now houses the Ragtag Cinema, Ninth Street Video and Uprise Bakery.
  • $10 million, 2007-2008 renovation of the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, which the document notes employed more than 350 workers from more than eight communities in addition to Columbia.
  • $3 million, 2008-2009 renovation of the Berry Building Warehouse on Walnut Street. Once nearly derelict, the building now houses a Wilson’s Fitness Center, 12 luxury apartments and retail space.

Interested in keeping those tax credit dollars flowing? Join Missouri Preservation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting, supporting and coordinating historic preservation activities in Missouri, and you will be kept informed.

Learn more about the tax credits  here.

Economic Impact of Historic Preservation

The reality of life is that money is finite. There’s not always enough money to do what we’d like to do.

However, a 2001 study conducted by Rutgers indicates historic renovation is economically beneficial.

The report on the study notes in 2000, an estimated $310 million was spent on historic properties. This yielded “8,060 jobs; $249 million in income; … and $292 million in in-state wealth.”

But don’t take this post’s word for it. You can read the entire 207-page report at this link.