Historic homes can tell us more than just about buildings and architecture. Sometimes they can tell us about our culture and our past fears.
Today, anti-immigration sentiment against Mexicans is making the news, but in the past, Germans bore the brunt of such negative feelings.
The Walter and Helen Guthrie Miller home is at 1516 Wilson Avenue, built circa 1916. It was named to the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission’s Notable Properties List in 2002.
It has not been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is within the East Campus Neighborhood Historic District, which was placed on the Register in 1996.
The document nominating the East Campus Neighborhood for placement on the Register 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…”
The house does more than mark a time period of anti-German sentiment.
It also represents a home designed by James Jamieson, who designed many of the buildings on the University of Missouri’s “White campus,” so named for the color of the stone used to build many of those building. Jamieson was involved in the design of Ellis Library, Memorial Union, Mumford Hall, the President’s House and the 1953 renovation of Jesse Hall, among others.
This home is thought to be the only architect designed home within the East Campus Neighborhood, according to the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places.
1516 Wilson Avenue, built 1916, photo courtesy of Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography