Commercial, demolition, Uncategorized

Bull Pen Cafe set for salvage and demolition, looking for stories and help

Pat Fowler of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission is looking for help to salvage parts of the Bull Pen Cafe, a local eatery that was open for 60 years prior to its closing in 2007. Salvage efforts are planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 25. The Bull Pen is at 2310 Business Loop, Columbia, Missouri.

She and the commission are also looking for stories about the Bull Pen Cafe. For more information, contact Fowler at, call or text (573) 256-6841.

As Fowler wrote on her Facebook page, and I’m posting her with her permission:

“You may have heard the Bull Pen Cafe will be demolished in the coming weeks. If you grew up in Columbia and attended a livestock auction, you’ll remember the amphitheater seating immediately behind the restaurant. We’d like to remove as many of those seats as we can muster volunteers for. There are also some other cool amenities inside that space we’d like to remove and put in the salvage barn for an upcoming city sponsored sale. Message me here, or on the HPC FB page if you can help. There are lots of great stories to ‘show and tell’ about the Bull Pen Cafe. We’d like to hear them.”

The upcoming demolition was covered in this March 10, 2017 Columbia Missourian article headlined, “Bull Pen Cafe building will face the wrecking ball.”

Here’s a link to a July 20, 2008 Columbia Missourian article about the Bull Pen. The headline is, “Cafe irreplaceable to regulars.


Apartments, Churches, Historical Homes, Stephens College

Do you think Columbia is an architectural wasteland?

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.

Historical Homes, Resources - Reports

$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:

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.

Historical Homes

See inside 704 Westmount the peanut brittle house

The home at 704 Westmount is up for sale, giving curious folks like me an opportunity to peek inside. Here‘s the House of Brokers’ virtual tour of the home, which is priced at $689,000.

So why does the headline mention peanut brittle? Three homes were built in 1907 in Columbia that carry that descriptive name for the outside surface of the house. Those homes are at 504, 608 and 704 Westmount Avenue were named to the Notable Properties List of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission in 2001.

An article written by Jim Muench in the February/March 2006 issue of Columbia Home & Lifestyle describes the home.

The article titled, “The Pebbled Pickett Home,” outlined the construction process of the home as well provides information on the owner 608 Westmount Avenue home and builder of the unusual threesome of houses with their distinctive look.

The exterior of the home was built by pouring concrete into a form over a layer of river rock and sand. The rock and pebbles were, the article notes, ” hauled up from local streambeds by wagons and mule teams.”

The builder of the homes, Curtis was a native of New England, the article notes. Curtis was a professor at the University of Missouri. Curtis was a professor of zoology and dean of the College of Arts and Science. Today, a building on the University of Missouri campus is named after him — it is not in the peanut brittle style. In 2010, the Curtis Building housed Agronomy, a Plant Sciences Unit and USDA Agriculture Research.

Columbia Historic Preservation Commission

Crystal Lovett and Brent Garner named to Columbia Historic Preservation Commission

Crystal Lovett was named the Historic Preservation Commission by the Columbia City Council on August 15, 2011, according to a report in the Columbia Daily Tribune. Brent Gardner was renamed to the Commission at the same meeting.

The Historic Preservation Commission  is charged with identifying historically significant structures, helping in various ways to preserve historic properties. Each year, the HPC names properties to its Notable Properties List to highlight significant historic properties. In the past, the properties have included homes, streets, cemeteries and even a stable.

For more information on the Historic Preservation Commission, see the City of Columbia’s website.

Columbia Historic Preservation Commission

See history, view 2011 Most Notable Properties

The quote from Brian Treece in the Feb. 15, 2011 article on the five properties named to the Most Notable Properties list sums up the importance of the list: “History is all around us, and sometimes we forget that.” The article includes photographs, a slide show and a map.

A free, open to the public gala is planned to celebrate the five new Notable Properties. It will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16, 2011 in the Columbia Public Library Friends Room.

In his quote, Treece, chairman of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission, was referring to Cosmo Park, which the article by Jamie Tanner notes was once the site of the Columbia Municipal Airport. Again, from Treece, “A lot of people don’t realize when they’re driving to their child’s soccer game or a picnic at Cosmo Park, they are driving on a runway of the old airport.”

Five properties were named to the list:

901 E. Broadway, Haden Building, 1921. Now the site of Commerce Bank, this building is on the site where the Haden Opera house once stood and dates back to 1921. The two previous buildings on this site burned down.

1602 Hinkson Ave., Joseph and Mary Duncan House, circa 1906. Built for retired farmer Joseph W. Duncan, it may have been built from mail-order plans, an idea suggested, the article notes, due to the “refined style and unusual combination of architectural styles…”

601 W. Broadway, A Fredendahl House, circa 1920s. Owned today by Mike and Jewell Keevins, according to the article, the house was built by A. Fredendahl, owner of Columbia’s first department store, which was located at 19-25 S. Ninth Street. The first floor of that building remains, while the upper floors were removed during the 1950s.

1615 Business Loop 70 W., Columbia Municipal Airport, 1970s. Now Cosmo Park, it was once site of a 110-acre farm of Moss Jones, which then became the location of the Allton Flying Service owned and operated by John and James Allton. They sold the site  to Columbia for a municipal airport around 1932. The city expanded the site and operated the 500-acre facility as an airport until the 1960s, the article notes, before opening the Columbia Regional Airport south of Columbia.

310 N. Providence Road, Douglass High School, 1917. Built to serve the city’s African-American population prior to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation, today, the school serves is an integrated high school. The full, complex history of the school can be found here.