The Annie Fisher Home at 2911 Old Highway 63 South has a new champion — Sheila Kitchen Ruffin.
Ruffin is developing The Annie Fisher Project to save the home. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the house was built, it was outside of Columbia. Today, it is between commercial buildings and apartments. To see a photo of the house, click here, which will take you to a photo by Don Shrubshell published in the Columbia Daily Tribune on Feb. 5, 2009.
Kicking off the project, Ruffin has collected background materials on Fisher, including copies of newspaper articles from 1911 and 1938.
The Feb. 8, 1911 article from the University Missourian is headlined: “Her Cooking Famed Throughout States.” It goes on as follows:
“Mrs. Annie Fisher, Columbia Negro, Serves for the Best of Society. Owns silverware for 250. Chipped Potatoes, Beaten Biscuits and Fruit Cake Renowned Dishes.”
The June 17, 1938 article from The Call announces her death. “Mrs. Annie Fisher, Famed ‘Beaten Biscuit Woman’ of Columbia, MO., Succumbs.” It goes on to note she died at her home at 608 Park Avenue at age 71. The article also includes information on the building at 2911 Old Highway 63 South, stating, “Twelve years ago she opened a dining room on highway 63, about a mile and half south of Columbia.” That would be the home now in danger of demolition.
The history of the home has been acknowledged. The building was named to the Columbia Notable Properties list in 2009.
Fisher and her accomplishments have been in the media recently as well. In February/March 2009 issue, Columbia Home & Lifestyle published an article on “Lost Black Neighborhoods,” and “My Favorite Things: Verna Harris-Laboy.”
According to these articles, Fisher’s first home was a 15-room on Park Avenue near downtown, torn down in the 1960s. Then in the 1920s, Fisher built another house, the one on Old Highway 63 South.
The house on Old Highway 63 housed Fisher’s restaurant. Fisher, according to the article on Black neighborhood, “was world-renowned for her beaten biscuit recipe, which won her a first-place award at the 1904 World’s Fair.” She had a catering business which she used to pay for the Park Avenue home and then later the Highway 63 home.
According to the article on Harris-Laboy, who researched Fisher and often dresses up as her for presentations at local schools, Fisher was born in 1867 and only received a third-grade education. “Fisher also had china and silverware to accommodate 1,000 people (she rented her supplies out when she wasn’t serving a party) and a mail-order business. Her courage and business acumen would be extraordinary at any time but are particularly remarkable for a black woman of her time and place,” notes the article written by Christina George.