CoMo is turning 200!

Guess what?! Columbia, Missouri and Boone County, Missouri will soon be celebrating 200 years! Columbia, Missouri was founded first as Smithton in 1818, then moved a few blocks east and renamed Columbia in 1821. Boone County was founded in 1820, according to the Boone County Government site.

To plan festivities to mark the bicentennial,  Columbia Mayor Brian Treece has appointed a Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning. The task force Brent Gardner, Pat Fowler, Nate Brown, Dr. Eryca Neville, Dr. Anne Deaton, Chris Campbell, Tom Mendenhall, Deb Sheals and Ann Rogers.

The next meeting of the task force will be at 7 p.m. on March 28, 2018, in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 South Providence. Here’s the agenda, which includes a link to a draft of the minutes of the last meeting, background materials and a list of festivity ideas.

The meeting is open to the public, but Task Force Chair Brent Gardner said the main purpose of these first few meetings is to get organized and educated.

Goals for the celebration 

While the task force is still getting organized, three goals were set at the group’s first meeting on Feb. 28, 2018.

  • It will be inclusive of all of Columbia, said Gardner — the wealthy, those without money, young, old, black, white, immigrants — everyone.
  • The second goal of the celebrations to be planned is that they will indeed be celebrations, fun and entertaining.
  • The third goal, said Deb Sheals, Gardner’s co-chair, will be to leave a mark, to create some kind of enduring item. As Sheals put it, she wants to give CoMo a “big, fat present for turning 200.” That “present” could be anything from creating lesson plans for grade and high school children to a piece of artwork in the Flat Branch area, which is where Columbia got its start.

At the inaugural meeting, ideas sprang from every member of the group along with ways about how to approach celebrating the city and county’s 200 years. Should the celebration revolve around 200 amazing Columbia people? Or should the festivities mark an accomplishment for each of the 200 years being marked? Should there be contests? An official coin or stamp? A memorial book?

How to get involved

The task force is working on creating a website portal where, as task force member Pat Fowler put it, people can read along with the task force members as it gathers information and educates itself.

There is a proposal to create a Facebook page and dedicated emails for the task force members to the public can contact them.

For now, the meetings of the task force, like all governmental meetings, are open to the public. The meetings will be held in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road. The meeting schedule can be checked on the city’s calendar here.

Here is the schedule of the meetings:

    • April 25
    • May 23
    • June 27
    • July 25
    • Aug. 22
    • Sept. 26
    • Oct. 24
    • Nov. 28
    • Dec. 26

Who is on the task force?

  • Brent Gardner, chair,
  • Pat Fowler, Historic Preservation Commission,
  • Nate Brown, MU’s Reynolds Journalism Institute,
  • Dr. Eryca Neville, Columbia Public Schools
  • Dr. Anne Deaton, University of Missouri
  • Chris Campbell, Boone County History & Culture Center
  • Tom Mendenhall, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Deb Sheals, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Ann Rogers
  • Amy Schneider, City of Columbia staff liaison

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.