I never get tired of this

One of the best things that happened in Columbia was when Sharp End was marked. Here’s a 2015 video about the marking of this economic and social heart of Columbia, which was lost due to urban renewal and some misguided policies.

I never get tired of watching this video about Sharp End, an area of Fifth and Sixth Street and Walnut Street!

The Sharp End Heritage Committee should be lauded over and over. Thanks to all who made this happen including James Whitt, Larry Monroe, Sheon Williams, Kenny Green, Mary Beth Brown, Mike Brooks.

I’m sure I’m many names. Fill me in!

Black women fighting for equality

Strong women fighting for equality isn’t new. At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, MU History Professor Keona K. Ervin will discuss her book, “Gateway to Equality: Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis.”

The event will be held in Fisher Auditorium in 88 Gannett Hall.

According to an announcement from the State Historical Society of Missouri, one of the sponsors of the event, her talk will cover these historic times:

“From the Great Depression to the 1960s, the city of St. Louis experienced significant decline as its population and industrial base stagnated while its suburbs expanded. To combat ingrained racism, crippling levels of poverty, and substandard living conditions, black women workers in St. Louis formed a community-based culture of resistance, fighting for fair and full employment, a living wage, affordable housing, political leadership, and personal dignity… and … effectively grounded working-class struggle in movements for racial justice and set the stage for the defining campaigns of the explosive 1960s.”

The lecture by Ervin is part of a series is sponsored by the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Center for Missouri StudiesUniversity of Missouri’s Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity; and the Missouri Humanities Council.

A doctorate in historic preservation?

A recent news release proclaimed Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation was offering the United States’ first Ph.D. program in historic preservation. Yet, a search reveals the University of Texas at Austin has already been offering doctorate study in architecture and historic preservation.


Either way, an opportunity to learn about historic preservation is available much closer to home — right here in Missouri and without the graduate fees.

On March 26-28, 2018, Main Street Now will hold a conference of the National Main Street Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Information on the event states that it brings together “doers, makers, and innovators to address challenges and take advantage of opportunities facing 21st-century downtowns and commercial districts.”

Worried you’re not Main Street Now material? The website states the event attracts professionals in preservation community revitalization … and volunteers. That pretty much could include anyone. Note the price tag isn’t low. Attending one day is $325, and there are half-day deals as well.  Either way, it’s still much cheaper than graduate school.

See art and the Niedermeyer Apartments

I’m a historic voyeur, always looking for opportunities to peek inside the historic buildings I write about. Surprisingly, not everyone welcomes me into their home or building to see the historic inside. Sometimes I find real estate videos or photos, but now here’s a unique chance to see the Neidermeyer.

From 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, there will be a pop-up show featuring the work of 10 UMC artists, according to a Coming Up notice in the Nov. 27, 2017 Columbia Daily Tribune.

Yes! It’s a winner. Art and history!

1907 photograph, when the Niedermeyer Apartments were the Gordon Hotel. Photo from the Missouri State Historical Society, with the notation of no known copyright restrictions.

1907, when the Niedermeyer Apartments were the Gordon Hotel. Photo from the Missouri State Historical Society, with the notation of no known copyright restrictions.

But it’s also a miracle story. If you’re new around Columbia, you might not remember 2013 fight for the Niedermeyer’s existence.

At that time, there were rumors, then plans, then news that a company was going to buy the Niedermeyer, raze it and build a student-focused apartment building there. This Feb. 10, 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune article,  “If walls could talk”, outlines the history of the building.

The article written by Andrew Denney states it was the site of the Columbia Female Academy from 1837 until about 1854. The building was rented out as a residence from 1865 until 1895. From 1895 until about 1911, it was operated as a hotel. For a period of time, it housed the MU Department of Domestic Science. In 1921, it reopened as the Niedermeyer Apartments, the article continues.

The Niedermeyer was saved from destruction by Nakhle Asmar, who planned to buy and renovate the buildings, according to this Columbia Daily Tribune March 13, 2013 article, “Buyer plans to start with basic fixes.”

This destruction and construction boom even caught the eye of the New York Times, which published this article on June 13, 2013, “In Student Housing, Luxuries Overshadow Studying.”  In summary, it highlights the downtown student housing boom, and includes statements from various people expressing concern about the area being overbuilt, how students may or may not be spoiled by all the luxuries at the new housing, as well as one comment which called the new apartments “soulless” compared to the Niedermeyer Apartments.

Here’s another way you can get a peek, even without attending Friday’s event. This blog put together by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Department and City of Columbia has this post on the Niedermeyer with lots of inside photos!

You can get a view of the outside and some history in this City of Columbia video made to commemorate the building’s addition to the 2013 Most Notable Properties list. Forward to 3:03 and watch until 4:42, unless you really like the music.

Here’s the Columbia Missourian article about the Neidermeyer when it was named to the 2013 list.

But you don’t have to rely on newspaper articles or videos to see the Neidermeyer on the inside with Friday’s event. See you there?

A historic note on #MeToo

The recent news about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood’s outrage about his sexual assaults shows news affects people even when it happens far away.

In 1855, 26 miles from Columbia, Missouri, a slave woman was hanged after she killed her white owner who had been raping her for years. The headline merely says a Missouri woman but in reality, it was a woman with a name, Celia, a woman who lived about 26 miles from where I live.

This account states puts the first rape even closer, stating the first assault took place nine miles south of Fulton. That place the attack at about 14 miles from my home. Closer than all the assaults of Weinstein.

This Oct. 19, 2017, Washington Post article describes how Celia lost her life when she refused one more assault and killed her attacker. She was found guilty of killing the man who owned her by a jury of 12 white men.

I’m certain this news reached Columbia when it took place in 1855. The same way people certainly knew about the attacks of Weinstein and others of his ilk. And that’s why the #MeToo is so powerful. We are no longer alone. We are no longer powerless. And we are no longer going to be tried or silenced.

Finally, this is why ColumbiaHistoricHomes.com and our history is so important. If we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Let’s make #MeToo part of our past and not our present or future.


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.

Three reasons lynching matters today

Lynching hit the news again in the Sunday, July 2, 2017 Columbia Missourian. The article relates that Missouri has the highest number of lynchings, 60, from 1877 to 1950 outside of the deep south.

The headline calls lynching an old disgrace. I believe it is not a disgrace, it is a tragedy for three reasons. Yet, the Columbia Missourian article is a step toward healing. There is literature that states change and overcoming something require three As, awareness, acceptance, action. I believe as a society, the U.S. is on that continuum and each person is somewhere along this path. Articles like this will help us move along on that path toward constructive, healing action.

Lynching is a tragedy and continues to haunt our society for these three reasons:

  • First and foremost to the person and the families of those lynched. It is said that when one person goes to prison, the whole family goes to prison due to the loss of that family member’s contribution in terms of affection, support and income, the stigma and harm to the children of that family member and the loss to society from that person’s inability to contribute to society.

How much more is this loss to the family and society in terms of a lynching? That reality cannot be determined, although, perhaps it can be measured by an economist. But from a personal level, I cannot measure it.

  • Second, this matters today because lynching is a racist act, a crime perpetrated by those called white against people called black. It is illegal, random and, in many cases, secretive and unprosecuted. In some ways, it is like rape, but much more heinous.  It erodes or destroys in each person a belief in our society’s rule of law. It suppresses a person in countless ways. As a woman, if you ever say to yourself you’re not going to anything because it would be dangerous due to a concern over rape, then the threat of rape has suppressed you. How much more does a crime suppress people than one which takes the person’s life like lynching in this random, unpredictable, illegal, secretive, rarely resolved crime?
  • Third, the loss of lynching continues to affect each and every person in the U.S. society endlessly in endless ways.  The nightmare of lynching stays in a family, a community, a state, a country. Think of how the history of the Holocaust haunts world relations. Think of how lynching haunts our city. The article notes that after a lynching in 1901 in Pierce City, Missouri, the African American population went from 400 in 1900 to 91 in 1910.  In 1860, the population of Boone County was 14,452, the population of slaves was 5,034. No need to look at today’s demographics to know that the percentage of African Americans in Boone County is nowhere near the roughly one-fourth of 1860. That loss of population is just one way that lynching continues to affect Columbia, Missouri today.

This is why my heart hurts every single time I drive past the place where the 1923 lynching of James T. Scott took place and why I rejoiced when the historic marker was placed there the fall of 2016. It’s a good step forward.