Four easy ways to help shape history

Shaping history comes in, well, all shapes and sizes. Here are four ways to help shape Columbia’s history.

1. A Saturday, June 1, 2013 concert will let you hear history — and help to preserve and discover it. A second J.W. “Blind” Boone piano has been discovered. Boone was a classical and ragtime musician who lived from 1864-1927, and his home at 10 N. Fourth Street is under going renovation. From 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 1, the Boone County Historic Society will host a concert of classical and Boone compositions to be played by Sutu Forte and Friends on Boone’s Chickering concert grand piano. The event will raise funds to restore the upright piano. Suggested donations are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Call the Boone County Museum and Galleries, 573-443-8936 for tickets or to make reservations. Credit cards accepted. The BCMG is located at 3801 Ponderosa St., Columbia.

2. A Monday, June 3, 2013 Public Hearing will let you weigh in on renovating the historic home of Boone. Built in 1889, it housed Boone and his wife until his death in 1927 and hers in 1931. More than a musician, Boone was also an amazing entrepreneur. He toured the country 10 months a year, often playing six days a week. In the 2012 book, “Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins: The Life and Times of Blind Boone,” John Davis estimates he earned roughly $3,600 to $14,375 a night in 2010 dollars. In 1980, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1998, it was named to Columbia’s Most Notable Properties list. The house was purchased by the City of Columbia in 2000, and since then the exterior has been renovated.

The notice about the public hearing notes the estimated costs of improvements to the interior and exterior of the home is $326,855. A quick scan of the local newspapers would reveal the wide range of opinions on this potential project.

The public hearing on the proposed plan will be held at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber of City Hall at 701 E. Broadway.

Here is a photo of what it looked like prior to the city’s purchase.

Courtesy of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography.
Courtesy of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission and FitzImages Photography.

3. June 9, 10, 11, 2013: The “Blind” Boone Early Jazz and Ragtime Festival will include the historic music of the  Boone era.  Performances will be held in the historic and recently renovated Missouri Theatre on Ninth Street in Columbia, Missouri. In addition to separate concert prices, there is a basic two-day pass for $100 and a three-day pass for $150, for four events and six events, respectively. The annual festival began in 1991 and are sponsored by the J.W. “Blind” Boone Foundation. For more information, see or call 573-882-3781.

Why is this concert series important? J.W. “Blind” Boone, the child of a run-away slave and U.S. Union bugler, played and composed ragtime music, as well as classical music. Many say he was the first person to bring popular, ragtime tunes to the concert stage, and his motto, despite being blind and African-American during a trying time, was “Merit, not sympathy, wins.”

4. Finally, one of the easiest ways to help preserve history is by joining the Boone County Museum and Galleries. Membership starts at $30 for individuals, $35 for families. The museum is open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. on Saturdays. In addition to galleries and displays, the BCMG offers a wide range of activities and events, many of which are discounted for members.  The BCMG has a website and Facebook page to help you keep in touch with easy ways to help preserve history, get involved or just attend interesting events such as the upcoming concert. The BCMG is at 3801 Ponderosa St.
Columbia, MO 65201

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