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.

 

Got ideas? Hall Theatre hits 100, faces uncertain future

History, like aging, isn’t for sissies. As this Aug. 28-29, 2016 article outlines, the Hall Theatre is facing an uncertain future as it hits 100. One man, Don Mueller, wants to do something about it.

Now, the 1916 theatre is vacant. Owned by a Stan Kroenke firm, TKG Hall Theatre LLC, it has been vacant since Panera left downtown. So what if Kroenke is worth roughly $8 billion according to Forbes magazine and buys and moves sports teams. It’s up to us, Columbia, to look for ways to keep the historic downtown we’ve got.

So I ask, got ideas? Because a repurposed building is a preserved building. Been to Orr Street Studios? You wouldn’t have wanted to go there in 2005, before Mark Timberlake bought the warehouses and renovated them. Been to Sager Braudis Gallery on Walnut Street? That was a scruffy part of Columbia before John Ott of Alley A Realty renovated it. Now it houses luxury apartments, Wilson’s and a gallery. Scroll down to 2009 and take a peek at the before and after on this page.

This isn’t ancient history. Ott renovated the former grocery warehouse in 2009, Timberlake took his chances on renovating the warehouses in 2005. You can also read more about Ninth Street theatre history in this article I wrote in 2010.

Stephen Daw wrote about it and Alex Scimecca photographed it for the Missourian’s Aug. 28-29, 2016 article. Now it’s our job to take the next step.

 

What are we going to do in 2016?

Got ideas? I’d love to hear them — and I’m sure Don Mueller and TKG Hall Theatre LLC would, too.

 

True losses from demolitions

Once again, historic houses look like they are slated for the wrecking ball, and the public has little recourse. Both Victorian houses at 1312 Bass Ave., and 1316 Bass Ave., have had demolition permits applied for, according to this May 6, 2016 article in the Columbia Missourian.

So what can the public in Columbia, Missouri do? Nothing. Unless the development planned would violate zoning permits or cause harm to public safety, property owners have the right to do what they like to their property.

Who is behind the destruction of these historic buildings in Columbia, Missouri?

It’s good to recall these things happen because someone wants them to happen. These are not strangers coming to Columbia to destroy our historic homes, but people just like you and me who decide they’d rather have a different building on their property. In this case, those people are Elizabeth Crawford through her firm CCD Investments. According to public records, CCD Investments is an eight-year-old firm headquartered in Columbia.

Another person involved owns Connell Architecture, and public records show the owner of this firm is Brian Connell.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that real people are taking real actions we may or may not like, as in this case. But the reality is that owners of property can do what they like with their property, unless public funds are involved in some way such as when historic preservation tax credits are used for renovations.

The article outlines that once again, the proposed use of the land, after the two 1910 circa homes are destroyed, will be apartments. Apparently, both Crawford and Connell think the needs of Columbia, Missouri would be better served by a three-story apartment complex with 48 bedrooms than two Victorian homes.

So what are we losing?

1316 Bass Avenue

The house at 1316 Bass Ave., is described as “The most obvious remnant from the Victorian age,” according to the National Register of Historic Places document for the East Campus National Historic District. The document continues, “the ca. 1898’Wm. T. Bayless house at 1316 Bass Avenue, an archetypical Queen Anne house featuring a curved wrap-around porch, corner tower, patterned shingles, stained glass windows, and polygonal corner bays.”

1312 Bass Avenue

Here’s what the NRHP document says about the 1312 Bass Ave. house:

“One early house in the northern part of the district displays such a mixture of styles. Directly east of the Bayless house, at 1312 Bass Avenue, is a large residence built by William Cochran around 1910. It displays an interesting mix of stylistic elements, some of which look ahead to twentieth century houses and others which are straight out of the Queen Anne era. The house has a solid rectangular form and Classically inspired decoration typical of Colonial Revival houses, and shaped exposed rafter ends and textured brick wall surfaces common to Craftsman houses, but also has decorative shingle work of the front gable end, and many multi-paned windows which are more representative of Queen Anne dwellings of the late nineteenth century. It appears that Cochran simply chose what was for him, the best of both worlds.”

The real loss

But I think the real loss of these homes is not the stained glass windows, the textured brick walls or event the decorative features of these Victorian homes. No, we’ll lose the story of the people who lived there. Who recalls William T. Bayless? Perhaps no one. But William Cochran may have been the man who helped organize the Presbyterian Church, according to this April 12, 2009 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Once the house is gone, no one will go looking for the history of Mr. Cochran or of Mr. Bayless. Perhaps offspring will come by and look for their memorial stones, but there will be no space, no living room, no bedroom, no garden, no bricks and mortar where their ancestors lived and perhaps died to look at, to see how they lived. And that is the real loss of any home.

So now, Columbia, Missouri and the East Campus Neighborhood will gain eight four-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments.

Might be a fair deal, but that’s not our call. It’s not for the public to say, but for the owners of the development firm, Elizabeth Crawford and those at the construction firm Crawford Construction and the architect, Connell Architecture to say. It’s their call, but Columbia’s loss.

Demolishing James Apartments: More than the loss of one building

Why should we care about one building being demolished? One building older than 100 years doesn’t seem like much to lose. We have lots of buildings, right? Yes and no.

This Feb. 16, 2016 article by Brittany Crocker with photos by Mikala Compton published in the Columbia Missourian explains why the loss of one building can do so much harm. Zip down to the part where Deb Sheals, a historic preservation expert, is quoted.

The article quotes Sheals saying, “The thing about a historic district is it’s a collection. Each property by itself may not be the most historic building, but together they’re a pretty important grouping. As we keep chopping away at our downtown, we’re losing that character.”

Sheals goes on to note how the Niedermeyer was saved several years ago. Columbia City Council couldn’t say no to someone using the property and the land in whatever way he or she wanted. Instead, a local person bought the property and is restoring it.

In this case, the owners of the James Apartments said they had an offer from a developer that was too lucrative to refuse. So after gaining rents from the building for years, a profitable offer came and they took it. There’s no way to ask the former owners of the building how they’ll feel about Columbia once it is all high-rise apartments. Whether they’ll go downtown to shop or eat when they’re so sunshine able to make its way to the sidewalks.

And there will be no way to go back to the quirky look of Columbia once it’s all high-rise buildings and franchise eateries. Because that character, that look, those historic buildings will be lost.

Perhaps something better, grander, more interesting will be in its place. Certainly, whatever was there before the Tiger Hotel was there is gone, and who doesn’t love the historic Tiger Hotel. But I’m not personally convinced that a 10-story apartment building is going to be the treasure that the Tiger or the Missouri Theatre have become.

But I need to be willing to wait and see because the James Apartments will soon be history.

 

 

The big business of bricks

Bricks once meant big bucks in Columbia, Missouri. In 1908, The Edwards Brick Co., invested $50,000 — $1.3 million in 2012 purchasing power according to MeasuringWorth.com — and employed 40 men, producing 25,000 paving bricks a day. The big buck investment was cited in Brick, Vol. 29, published in October 1908.

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

By the time the company closed in 1985, the name had been changed to Columbia Brick and Tile, but the employment and output hadn’t changed much. According to a Sept. 12, 1971 article in the Sunday Missourian Magazine, the plant produced 35,000 bricks a day and employed 35 men, including owner operator Bill Powell.

Now Columbia has approved fixing the city’s brick roads, citing their historic value and even the economic value of brick roads. Asphalt roads must be replaced every 15 years, while brick roads can last more than 100 years, notes a March 16, 2014 article by Veronike Collazo published in the Columbia Missourian. On March 17, 2014, Collazo reported the city approved restoring brick streets in Columbia over the next 20 years. See this city map for information on where brick streets are now. In the agreement, it should be noted, the city agreed to limit the cost and include characteristics to make brick streets safe for persons with disabilities.

Today, the brickworks once at 2801 E. Walnut, Columbia, Mo., is roughly under the Lowe’s on Conley Road, according to Liz Kennedy, the sister of the now late John “Jack” Kennedy, the last operator of that brick company. Kennedy noted that Columbia once supported a half dozen brickworks, an industry she says was put out of business due to several factors: increasing regulations, soaring energy costs, the availability of inexpensive mass-produced bricks and a shift toward a demand for perfect and uniform colored bricks, something the beehive kiln bricks of the local company couldn’t be counted on to produce. Today, the reminders of the brickworks exist in a stack of a wide variety of brick and tile at Liz Kennedy’s home — and the brick buildings in Columbia.

Bricks and tile from Edwards Brick, later called Columbia Brick and Tile.

Bricks and tile from Edwards Brick, later called Columbia Brick and Tile.

But the energy costs Liz Kennedy cites might not have affected W.E. Edwards who established the Edwards Brick and Tile Company in 1896. In 1907, he sank a shaft at the works “so as to get at the coal to use at the works,” notes the 1907 Clay Record, Volumes 31-32 by J. Dixon Doyle and George H. Hartwell published by Clay Record Publishing Company.

Here’s a brief chronological history of the Columbia Brick and Tile Company:

According to The State Historical Society of Missouri archival material and summaries of this information, the Edwards Brick and Tile Company “manufactured brick and tile for use in residential, commercial, and institutional projects in Columbia, central Missouri and out-of-state.”

In 1930, the plant became the Edwards-Conley Brick and Tile Company, when Sanford Conley joined the firm.

In 1945, Edwards sold his interest to A. Burnett Coleman.

In 1947, the company’s name was changed to Columbia Brick and Tile, following the death of Conley died and the sale of his interest to Hart Robnett.

In 1950, Fred Kennedy and William Powell bought the plant. In 1966, Fred Kennedy died and his son Jack Kennedy continued the firm in partnership with Powell.

In 1985, Jack and his sister Liz closed the business. The historic archives explains the closure: “Inflation; cost increases in labor, materials, and gas prices; gas shortages and curtailments; and increases in federal regulations in the 1970s took their toll on the small business…”

Now, the history of Columbia as a town with brickworks is nearly forgotten. Yet the legacy lives on in the brick homes and buildings with their multihued and unusual bricks

Great opportunity to own a historic home and schoolhouse

Here are two great ways to get a peek inside a historic home and a historic school-house. At 10 a.m. Saturday, August 17 2013, this former one-room school at 4713 Brown Station Road, Columbia, will go up for auction.

Named the Keene School, the United Country’s website outlines its history as a former school-house and includes pictures for an online tour of the now three bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house.

The website states the house was built in 1898, and information provided by Deb Sheals, a historic preservation consultant, states the former school-house was used as a school from 1898 until the early 1900s.

The Old Houses website says the house is one of last remaining brick two-story school houses. Once planned to provide room for schooling on the first floor and housing for the school teacher on the second floor, the 1,660 square-foot home features 11 1/2 feet ceilings on the first floor.

The building was named to Columbia’s Notable Properties list in 2004.

The house was on the market in 2009, as well, according to this 2009 Columbia Missourian article.

Whether you’re in the market for a house or just interested in seeing history, the 10 a.m. Saturday auction at 4713 Brown Station Road is an opportunity.

2013 Most Notable Properties Highlights

In case you missed it, here are links to coverage of the February 2013 announcement of six historic sites named to the Columbia Most Notable Properties List by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.

Qualifications for being named to the list include the property being older than 50 years, within Columbia’s city limits and highlights the historical or architectural influences in Columbia. To learn more about the Most Notable Properties criteria, check out this publication by the city.

The 2013 properties are as follows:

920 Cherry St. — Niedermeyer Apartments, circa 1837, with additions in 1902.

110 S. Ninth St. — Booche’s, circa 1925.

511 E. Rollins St., Pi Beta Phi Missouri Alpha Chapter House, 1930.

1411 Anthony St. – Arthur and Susie Buchroeder House, circa 1906. Dutch Colonial revival-style

703 Ingleside Drive, W.J. and Clara Lhamon House, 1926.

916 W. Stewart Road — Claude and Stella Woolsey House, circa 1930.

To read more about the properties, here are links to media coverage of the properties.

Feb. 5, 2013 — Columbia’s 2013 Most Notable Properties. Six properties, including a business rather than a property per se, were named to the Columbia Most Notable Properties list. Columbia Missourian article.

Feb. 5, 2013 — Commission to honor city’s notable properties: Six buildings to be recognized. Columbia Daily Tribune article.