If you’ve driven past the Taylor House Inn at 716 W. Broadway, you’ve driven by a piece of history nearly forgotten today.
No, it’s not contained in the 1909 Colonial Revival home itself, although that is impressive, especially after its $1.3 million renovation in 1999 by Deborah and Robert Tucker.
It is the fact that this two and one-half story home of roughly 7,000 square feet was built by a man who attended school only through the age of 12, when he was apprenticed to a cabinet-maker. Today, the age of being apprenticed to someone is long gone.
The story of John Newton Taylor and his wife Elizabeth F. Reed of Huntsville is told in the National Register of Historic Places. The home was placed on the Register on May 25, 2001 and named to Columbia’s Historical Preservation Commission’s List of Notable Properties in 2002.
Born in Pennsylvania, John Taylor moved to Iowa and worked as a cabinet-maker. There he married Lida Stroup and they moved to Huntsville in Randolph County, Missouri. They went on to have four children, but she died in 1886 and he married Huntsville, native Elizabeth F. Reed in 1890. They went on to have seven children.
The Taylors built their house in 1909. John Taylor had piano and furniture stores in several mid-Missouri towns, including Columbia and gradually he went into the automobile business, even acquiring the local Dodge dealership before the car was even on the market, according to the NRHP nomination form. In 1917, Taylor ran an ad in the Boone County Atlas proclaiming himself a wholesale and retail dealer in pianos and automobiles, the document notes.
Taylor also served on the board of directors for the Columbia Commercial Club, the nomination form notes, and the Taylor House Inn website states he was on the Columbia City Council and the Stephens College Board of Directors.
By his death in 1932 at age 83, he was a prominent businessman. His obituary was printed on the front page of the local newspaper with a photograph, the nomination form states, and the mayor and city council all attended. City employees were even given time off for the funeral, the document continues — noting his son Thomas Taylor was a city councilman at the time.
More information on the history of the Taylors, including photographs, is available on the Taylor Home Inn website.
After his death, wife Elizabeth continued to live in the house with her daughter Eleanor, who was then an assistant professor at the University of Missouri. In 1935, Elizabeth had the house divided into a tri-plex and continued to live in the home. Elizabeth also developed the surrounding acreage.
As the years passed, the house passed out of the Taylor family and fell into some disrepair.
Then, in 1999, Deborah and Robert Tucker, then owners of Tucker’s Jewelry, renovated the home, converting it into a beautiful bed and breakfast. You can take a tour of the home as it is today via the Taylor Home Inn website.
The home also has been featured on HGTV, and the video highlights the home, its renovation and historical finds the Tuckers came upon.
The home was also featured in a January 13, 2010 Columbia Missourian article on an effort to have a section of West Broadway placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
All this in a home built by someone who only attended school through the age of 12 and then went on to become a cabinet-maker. Yes, historical homes do tell us about who were were and, in this case, with his automobile business, where we went.