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.

The arts — and history — aren’t dead

Musician J.W. “Blind” Boone. Singer Jane Froman. Both of these artistic luminaries and seven other historical figures from Columbia’s past will come alive through four-minute monologues held during 1 to 4 p.m. on May 29 at their graves in Columbia Cemetery on Broadway.

This event was highlighted in this “Living History event planned for Memorial Day,” article by Rudi Keller, published May 13, 2017 in the Columbia Tribune.

The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery, which also has a Facebook page. The monologues were written by Chris Campbell, executive director of the Boone County Historical Society.

So who else will you get to see come to life – with a consciousness of who they were, their current deceased status and today’s events?

  • Ann Hawkins Gentry, Columbia postmistress from 1838-1865.
  • George Swallow, Missouri’s first state geologist and MU faculty member
  • John Lathrop, president of MU twice.
  • Sgt. Wallace Lilly, a slave who enlisted in the Union Army in 1864 for his freedom.
  • Luella St. Clair Moss, Columbia College president from 1893 to 1920.
  • James S. Rollins, a man considered the father of MU.
  • Walter Williams, founder of the MU School of Journalism and MU president from 1931 to 1935.

Mysterious lack of fanfare: Sigma Nu fraternity house at 710 S. College Ave. demolished

Part of the mission of this website is to mark the history — and the destruction of history — in Columbia in terms of its buildings.

Mysteriously, there was little fanfare about the destruction of the 1915 Sigma Nu fraternity house at 710 S. College Ave. Here is a photo story published in the Columbia Missourian on June 28, 2016.

  • June 28, 2016 — Sigma Nu comes down, Columbia Missourian. Summary: The fraternity house at 710 S. College Ave. is demolished. A new fraternity house will replace it.

Like all demolitions, the plans for this started long before the bricks were smashed. This City of Columbia notice of May 23 and May 24, 2016 shows the city using the building as firefighter practice.

This July 2016 City of Columbia demolition report shows the building on the list. The city must issue a demolition permit, which is designed to ensure that utilities are turned off and any safety concerns have been addressed.

Here’s a video that shows what the new building will look like.

Here’s a link to the Sigma Nu’s website’s history page where you can see what the house that was at 710 S. College Ave.

 

Twain did it, now you can do it. See the 1867 Italianate Chancellor’s Residence

But will cost you $15, which will go to a good cause. The Chancellor’s Residence at 501 N. Ninth St., is on the Women’s Symphony League Holiday Homes Tour set for 1-4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 and 4, 2016.

You can buy tickets at this website: Women’s Symphony League Holiday Homes Tour.

The Residence is one of five buildings on the tour, two at MU. The buildings are:

  • The home of Melissa and Josh Holyoak, 2709 Chapel Wood View
  • The home of Megan and Daniel Hoyt, 5307 E. Tayside Circle
  • Providence Point, University of Missouri President’s Residence, 1900 Providence Point
  • The Chancellor’s Residence, 501 S. Ninth St.,
  • Brouder Science Center, Columbia College, 705 Rangeline

Mark Twain dined in the residence in 1902 when he was on campus to receive an honorary degree, according to this MU document about the house. President Harry S Truman stayed there in 1950 and Eleanor Roosevelt stopped in for a rest there in 1959.

Now, the Foley family calls it home. But so does another resident, according to rumor and some accounts.

The house, documents recount, was finished in 1867, and is the oldest building on the campus of the oldest public university west of the Mississippi River.

In 1867, MU President Daniel Read moved in with his family and his wife Alice died there in 1874. This undated publication of the Columbia Missourian includes a video clip of Anne Deaton, wife of the former Chancellor Brady Deaton and a former resident of the Residence. She relates in the video an account of the grandfather clock that didn’t work chimed unexpectedly and the elevator would run without an occupant, incidents she attributes to Alice Read’s ghost.

The Residence, the article notes, is included in the recently book, “The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls and Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland,” by Mary Barile.

Perhaps there are other hauntings. Until April 27, 2016, the Residence was occupied by R. Bowen Loftin, the chancellor who resigned the fall of 2015, ousted by student protests over what they called the university’s lack of response to racial incidents. His move out was covered and his sentiments highlighted in this June 27, 2016 Columbia Missourian article.

There have been other opportunities to take a peek at the resident of current Interim Chancellor Hank Foley and his wife Karin. They hosted an open house Sept. 24, 2016 with free admission.

But this weekend will give you a chance to see the Residence spruced up for the holidays and an opportunity to support music in Columbia. The proceeds from the holiday tour goes to the Women’s Symphony League, which supports the Missouri Symphony Society that brings a wide range of music to Columbia, Missouri.

It’s not as a nice a deal as Twain received with dining there and receiving an honorary degree, but it is an opportunity to see a historic home at its finest.

And that’s a good deal.