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

Under your feet tour Saturday, Oct. 15

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.

Love history? Love knowing about what other people miss? Here’s your chance to learn about history literally under your feet and to learn about something most people never think about — the building techniques and materials of brick streets.

A free tour is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, and will be conducted by Patrick Earney, a professional engineer and member of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission. The tour will start from the City Hall Key Sculpture at the corner of Eighth and Broadway, 701 E. Broadway.

See you there – wait? You can’t go? Here’s some information about the event and Columbia’s brick streets.

Tour information

Brick streets worth saving, Columbia Tribune, Dec. 1, 2012.

City of Columbia brick street background information, Oct. 21, 2015. Complete with a cool map!

From this site, a brief history, including some financial information and a bit about Columbia Brick and Tile, one of the eight brickworks Columbia, Missouri once boasted.

Finally – a blast from the past. This February 1994 report discusses the brick streets of the East Campus as an area where University of Missouri faculty once lived. The report includes historic maps. It’s a long download, even with a fast connection, but a great read.  A Final Report of Survey of the East Campus Neighborhood, Columbia, Missouri, Osmund Overby, Howard Marshall, Scott Myers, Debbie Sheals, Ray Brassieur.

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.

 

 

This is why you get lost in Columbia, Missouri

Bet you didn’t know that Chapel Hill Road used to be West Boulevard South. Which now makes sense of the fact that the rest of West Boulevard often has addresses such as 121 West Boulevard North.

This street name tidbit came out at the April 1, 2014 event honoring the 2014 Most Notable Properties named by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. Gaining one of these honors for a historic building 50 years or older was the Fairview Methodist Church. What? Can’t find the church? That’s because it’s now Countryside Nursery School. Which one of the presenters honored as Columbia’s longest operating day care. Except it isn’t a day care.

Have you come across other such “used to be” names in Columbia, Missouri? How did you find your way or uncover the reason behind the name? It’s this kind of thing that can make Columbia, Missouri so confusing.

At the event, Carol Notbohm, the former owner of Countryside Nursery School, talked about how when she moved here in the 1970s after retiring from teaching, the little church on the hill called to her. By then, it was vacant, after the congregation outgrew it and moved to a new church at 3200 Chapel Hill Road — with a website that calls it the Front Lawn Church. But the first church did give the new church’s location its name. Chapel Hill used to be the southern portion of West Boulevard until around the time the first Fairview Methodist Church was built. With the church in the location, it was renamed Chapel Hill for the church on the hill. And Fairview Methodist Church was named because an early church member commented that it looked so pretty on the top of the hill, according to a report by Deb Sheals, a historic preservation consultant cited in an article about the new Most Notable Properties.

It’s this kind of making sense of things that the Columbia Historic Homes website and history itself does. Have you might stumbled on a fact or information that helps make sense of Columbia? Let me hear from you about what you’ve discovered that keeps you from getting lost or confused.

What to read the entire article about the event on Tuesday, marking the five new Most Notable Properties? Here’s a summary and link to the article by Andrew Denney.

  • April 2, 2014 — Historic properties celebrated at 15th annual Most Notable event — Outlines a few facts for each of the five properties named to the Most Notable properties list by Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission. The properties are: Fairview United Methodist Church at 1320 S. Fairview Road., Fairview Cemetery at Chapel Hill and Fairview Road, Francis Pike House at 1502 Anthony St., Bess and Dr. J.E. Thornton House at 905 S. Providence Road. Columbia Tribune.

Could the student-housing boom help this motor inn?

This Columbia Missourian article outlines beautifully the history of the Arrow Head Motel, what Deb Sheals says in the story is one of the last remaining old tourist camps. The present owner, Mohammad Eldeib, no longer rent rooms there, instead using the location to rent trucks and trailers.

But in the article, he notes he’d like to renovate it for student housing. What do you think? Could this place be saved and reused by becoming student housing?

The 1938 building was named to the Columbia Notable Properties List in 2012. The article outlines the historic nature of the place, the former owners and even highlights the historic importance of the sign. It’s a great read — especially with the last quote from Eldeib, comparing the old motel to the pyramids in Egypt. “They are witnesses to whoever passes by and dwells in them and testify on them and their actions.”

Having students live in the motel, in some ways, would bring it full circle, but to find out why I say that, you’ll have to read the article written by Joey Ukrop with photos by Sarah Ng.

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/a/165526/the-arrow-head-motel-remains-historic-fixture-in-columbia/

Learn how to uncover history

Have you ever wondered about the history of your home, neighborhood or one you drive by or see often?

Here’s your chance to learn how to uncover the history all around you. Deb Sheals, an architectural historian and historic preservation consultant will be giving a free talk at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at the Columbia Public Library in the Friends Room.

The library’s calendar notes she’ll explain what records to look for to date historic houses and identify their early owners and occupants and where to find records online and locally.

The talk is called, “If Walls Could Talk.”

For example, this house is Wilson Avenue, which used to be Keiser Avenue. The name of the street was changed following the anti-German sentiments that arose following World War I, according to documents nominating the East Campus Neighborhood for placement on the Register. The document notes, “Wilson Avenue was once named Keiser Avenue, perhaps named after J. P.Keiser, who owned land in the area in the late 19th century. The name was changed in the late teens or early twenties, as a result of anti-German sentiments following WWI. The new name could be after Thomas C. Wilson, an early resident of 1507 Wilson, who served as the secretary to the Board of Agriculture in 1912…”

1516 Wilson Avenue, built 1916, photo courtesy of Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography

1516 Wilson Avenue, built 1916, photo courtesy of Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography

This talk could help you unearth equally interesting information about your own area.

What kinds of historic things have you learned about your home, neighborhood or areas you frequent? What records did you use or uncover?

Take a historic tour of Columbia’s highlights

There’s no time limit on taking this historic tour. Here’s a link to a PowerPoint presentation that basically offers a tour of Columbia’s historic highlights. This presentation was presented by Deb Sheals, a historic preservation consultant, in May 2011 at a public meeting of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.

I love taking these kinds of historic tours from the comfort of my easy chair and laptop!

The meeting where this was presented was held to highlight the work on a map project being done by Sheals for the HPC.

Enjoy the tour via this pdf of Columbia historic highlights.

What online tours have you found in Columbia of historic places, structures or areas? Share about the historic resources you’ve found on line.