Find your connections to historic Columbia

Turns out, my best friend is connected to the historic 1910 Heibel-March Building. And she not from here, she’s German and didn’t even move to Columbia from Chicago until the 1970s.

Not bad for a building that had been vacant for 16 years and has only recently been revitalized as the office space for Grove Construction, as outlined in this March 6, 2014 article, headlined Heibel-March Building to open after 16 years of vacancy.

So how is she connected to this building? One of her husband’s relatives married into the Heibel family, giving her a tie to this building. Could you find some ties to historic buildings?

Here’s what the building looked like in 2005, when it was named to Columbia’s Notable Properties List:

Heibel-March Drug Store Building, 2005 Most Notable Properties. Photo Fitzimages Photography/City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. Photo used with permission.
Heibel-March Drug Store Building, 2005 Most Notable Properties. Photo Fitzimages Photography/City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. Photo used with permission.

My friend’s connection stems from way back.Two brothers, J.A. and J.P. Heibel moved to Columbia from Waverly, Ohio in 1896, according to a history of Sacred Heart Catholic church published as “100 Years Sacred Heart Parish, Columbia, Mo, 1881-1981.”

At first the two owned a distillery at Rock Bridge, making brandies and whiskey, according to a Nov. 11, 1919 article in The Evening Missourian. The church history leaves this out, but then notes the Heibel brothers went into business with R.B. Tilley and J.R. Yates, first with a store on Ninth and Broadway, “until the fire of 1920 burned them out.” J.P. Heibel died of pneumonia in 1923, but J.A. Heibel went on to operate Heibel Drug Store with his son Don for “many years at the corner of Range Line (sic) and Wilkes Blvd,” the book on Sacred Heart continues.

One of J.A. Heibel’s daughters, Agnes, married E.L. Simon of the Simon Construction Company, and the history notes, “remained all of her married life in Columbia.”

Since my friend married into the Simon family, she’s part of the fabric of Columbia. I found all this out with a quick Google search – which makes me wonder if anyone else has found quirky links to Columbia’s history, even if they aren’t from here.

Even prior to owning the Heibel building, the Heibels made the news. They were accused of selling “intoxicating liquors in less quantities than three gallons, to-wit: One pint of whiskey and one pint of lager beer, without taking out or having a license as a dramshop keeper,” according to the 1906 book, “Cases Determined in the St. Louis and Kansas City Courts of Appeals of the State of Missouri,” Vol. 116.

Later, J.A. Heibel was lauded for his marketing in the 1915 book, “Tile and Tile,” Vols. 1-5, pharmaceutical trade publications.

“J.A. Heibel, proprietor of the Columbia Drug Company, at Columbia, Mo., is quick to make use of good advertising opportunities. Mr. Heibel has a neatly lettered sign placed over the inside of each of his two front doors. He finds that customers invariably notice one or the other of these signs on leaving and that in many instances the signs accomplish their object in bringing about further sales. The signs read: WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN? V.L. Kerns, Kansas City, Mo.”

So Groves Construction should be lauded for keeping this historic building which has kept alive this history of men who might have been forgotten and which gives us the opportunity ask: How am I connected to Columbia?”

I’d love to hear any unusual connections you’ve found to Columbia’s history.

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