The late Mary Paxton Keeley spoke from the beyond through an event sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery.
Keeley, MU’s first female journalism graduate, said through this interpretive event she was on the steps in 1909 when Walter Williams opened the doors to the what is reported to be the world’s first School of Journalism.
She described her work at the Kansas City Post, as well as her teaching journalism and creative writing at Christian College, now Columbia College, and how she once bicycled through the streets of Columbia before her death at 100.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Were you too busy to take in the Boone County Stables Tour this past weekend?
Not to worry, the Columbia Historic Homes website has you covered. Here are links to information on the Stephens Stables with photos and history about these stables which were built in 1939 and 1952.
This history is important because first it gives us a window into one of our past industries, the horse industry, second it gives us a peek at something that’s still important in Columbia, Stephens College where women can still major in equestrian studies and finally it’s a place that still offers access to the community via lessons and visits.
Sept. 17, 2015 — Stables tour aims to benefit historical society — Self-guided tour of five Boone County stables to benefit the Boone County Historical Society. The Stephens College stables were included on the tour. Columbia Daily Tribune.
All history can become hidden, but it is sometimes it seems especially true for women’s history.
This Stephens College blog post article spotlights a sign that was discovered during a demolition of an old building at Cosmo Park that revealed a bit of women’s history that probably has been nearly forgotten.
The post outlines the history of Cosmo Park, which started out as a private airport owned by the Allton brothers, who then sold it to the City of Columbia for the Columbia Municipal Airport. The runways were turned into some of the roads in the park. But from 1941-1960, the post notes, the Columbia Municipal Airport was also the home of the “Stephens College Aviation Department,” as the newly uncovered sign shows.
Do you know of any other uncovered history?
In this case, the history will now be saved. The sign will be removed and preserved until a use can be determined.
Have you found any hidden history like this and found a new use or a new way to display it?
Please leave a comment if you’ve found hidden history of women — or men — and share how you’ve reused it.
William Bernoudy – student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Eero Saarinen – architect of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Boller Brothers and an Paris opera.
These are just a few of the names and reasons cited to dispel the idea that Columbia, Missouri is an architectural wasteland. In case you missed this article by Morgan McCarty in the November 2013 issue of Inside Columbia. The article, “Columbia, The Beautiful,” outlines the architectural finds in Columbia.
I know. I know. We live in the Fly-Over Zone — the area of the country folks from the East and West Coast fly over, only to ask us where we live again and again, sometimes mixing up Missouri with Montana. It is after all, one of “those” M states “out there.”
But sometimes we ourselves perpetuate that myth, perhaps to keep the gem of Columbia to ourselves? I’d love to hear your comments.
At any rate, this article describes the architectural importance of these nine Columbia sites:
1844 Cliff Drive, built by William Bernoudy.
709 West Broadway, designed by Ludwig Abt, also the architect for Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Stephens College Firestone Baars Chapel, designed by Eero Saarinen. Your friends from the East have likely flown past his other claim to fame, the Arch in St. Louis.
Missouri Theatre on Ninth Street, one of the few remaining “movie palaces.” The article reports the theatre’s design was inspired by he Paris’ historic Opera Garnier. No need for a long flight to enjoy this beauty, instead, we get to enjoy its 1,000-plus space and newly renovated interior at events scheduled by the University of Missouri, the owner of this 1928 theatre.
Memorial Union at the University of Missouri. The article states the combination of two kinds of masonry give it the look of “a Gothic ruin instead of a modern monument imitating a medieval building.”
Belvedere and Beverly apartment buildings, designed by Nelle E. Peters. Peters was one of the first women architects, according to this information from the State Historic Society. If you feel like a drive, her work can be seen in the “Literary block,” on the west side of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. Each apartment is named after a famous author including Mark Twain. Or you can drive down Hitt Street and see her work and even get a peek inside at this website for the both the Belvedere and Beverly apartments.
716 John N. and Elizabeth Taylor House, once a bed and breakfast, it is once again a home. It is in Columbia’s first subdivision, Westwood.
Jessie Hall and the Columns, said to be one of the most photographed spots in Missouri.
509 Thilly Ave., an American Craftsman Foursquare.
If these architectural gems aren’t enough for you to cast away those ideas about Columbia as an architectural backwater, what kinds of attractions do you think would make Columbia a bigger draw for our East and West Coast friends — or do you want to keep Columbia our little secret?
I’d love to hear about the sights and sites you’d like spotlighted.
There’s no time limit on taking this historic tour. Here’s a link to a PowerPoint presentation that basically offers a tour of Columbia’s historic highlights. This presentation was presented by Deb Sheals, a historic preservation consultant, in May 2011 at a public meeting of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.
I love taking these kinds of historic tours from the comfort of my easy chair and laptop!
The meeting where this was presented was held to highlight the work on a map project being done by Sheals for the HPC.
Enjoy the tour via this pdf of Columbia historic highlights.
What online tours have you found in Columbia of historic places, structures or areas? Share about the historic resources you’ve found on line.