Seven reasons to skip this event marking historic places in Columbia, Missouri

You may want to skip this free event set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at Columbia’s historic Daniel Boone Lobby at 701 E. Broadway.

Below I list seven reasons not to attend this reception and presentation marking the honoring of five Columbia properties as Notable Properties by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. Since 1998, the HPC has been honoring historic properties to highlight their historic importance, sometimes as an attempt to save the building or location from being lost. This year, the five properties being honored are: Fairview United Methodist Church, Fairview Cemetery, Lee School, Francis Pike House and the Bessie and Dr. J.E. Thornton House.

In case you ignore these seven reasons not to attend, organizers are requesting those planning to attend to RSVP by Monday.The reception begins at 6:30pm in the lobby of the Historic Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway. The recognition program will begin at 7 pm. RSVPS are appreciated.

And if you are planning on going, I’d love to hear from you. Have you attended past events? Why are such events a draw for you — or why have you skipped in the past or are planning on giving it a no-go this year?

1. The event is a free celebration of Columbia’s history. Founded in 1821, Columbia’s Notable Properties include houses from 1827 to 1959, highlighting the city’s history from its pre-Civil War agricultural days to recent history with its economy based on medical care, insurance and education, industries said to give the city a near-recession proof economy. Properties named to the Notable Properties List have included churches, commercial buildings, even a mule barn. The requirements are that the buildings must be older than 50 years old and highlight a historic event, person or place. The designation does not include any restriction on future development or use.

Knowing the city’s history, however, gives people a greater appreciation of our past and hence our present. It creates connections where once none existed. For example, Lee Elementary School, honored this year, demonstrates a connection to the Civil War and the country’s Great Depression and federal efforts to help us dig out of that financial abyss.

So who wants to know that kind of positive history? If you do, like I do, then attend the event.

2. The event offers a free celebration with food catered by Bleu Restaurant and Wine Bar, a downtown location that consistently gets high rankings at TripAdvisor. The restaurant is ranked 37th in Columbia, Missouri attractions, so Tuesday night will give you an opportunity to try the food for free. Who wants that — well, anyone who enjoys good food I suppose. I’ll be there enjoying the Bleu offerings.

3. Lee Elementary School at 1208 Locust St., will be added to the list of Notable Properties. The school educates about 300 children in grades K through 5. It’s a school with an emphasis on arts today, and the history of the building began in 1904 when it was named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. In the 1930s, Columbia was growing and Lee school was crowded. But the country was just coming out of the Great Depression, a time period with a 25-percent unemployment rate. The federal government put in place many programs to help stimulate the economy included building projects.  According to a Columbia Daily Tribune article published Feb. 3, 2014, “Lee Elementary amount sites honored as Notable Properties,” there were 15 such New Deal building projects in Columbia and “12 of those projects were for Columbia Public Schools or the University of Missouri.” Tuesday’s event will likely feature representatives of Lee accepting the award. But who wants to remember a time our country overcame economic adversity and get to meet some local educators teaching our children? Those who do, can attend the gala marking Lee’s entry to the Notable Properties List. I’ll be there in hopes of hearing from the educators about their school.

4. Fairview United Methodist Church at 1320 S. Fairview Road will be inducted into the Notable Properties List, but it isn’t a church anymore. One of the best ways to save history is to put the building to work. When Fairview United Methodist Church outgrew this small building, it went on to become the Countryside Nursery School, according to a Jan. 31, 2014 Columbia Missourian article, “Lost history: Fairview Cemetery reflects buried history.” The school has gone on to educate more than 3,000 students since 1979, the article notes. So why would you be interested in a building being reused and remaining a vibrant part of our community? If you are, see you at Tuesday’s event.

5. Fairview Cemetery, next to the former Fairview United Methodist Church, is remarkable for two reasons: it marks a cemetery cared for by family members links it to a cemetery that was lost to time, The Grant Cemetery. Robert Eugene Grant cares for the Fairview Cemetery with his nephew Gary Wayne Grant and his niece Patsy Watt, president of Fairview Cemetery Association. But his distant relatives were buried in Grant Cemetery. Somewhere along Bourn Avenue and Rollins and Stadium, the cemetery was the center of a controversy between the Grant family and a developer that bought the land. The headstones went missing and the development went ahead. As David Sapp, a local historian, is quoted in the newspaper article as noting at that time a lot of family cemeteries were destroyed because there were not laws in place. So why would you want to mark a place where Columbia’s ancestors reside and acknowledge improved respect for such landmarks? Those who do, could attend Tuesday evening’s event.

6. Francis Pike House at 1502 Anthony St. and the Bessie and Dr. J.E. Thornton House at 905 S. Providence. The Anthony Street home was built with Ozark rock and is a rare example of local native stone use, the Columbia Missourian article notes. The Thornton house marks the life of physician Dr. J.E. Thornton who didn’t live long enough to reside in the home he was having built. The house marks his life while highlighting our fragility. The Historic Preservation Commission events typically include presentations about the history of the homes, so who wants to learn more about an area, Providence Road, where street expansion and the destructions of homes has been in the news? If you do, mark Tuesday evening on your calendar.

7. The worst reason to go to the event is to learn to appreciate Columbia and the community. There will be a crowd of people who know about our history and how we grew from a tiny town of a few settlers to a city of more than 100,000, how we went from being a farming community, to a city with problems, yes, but one with three institutions of higher education, a lively downtown (come early to find parking) and employment opportunities in a wide range of industries.

The city has been naming properties to this list since 1998. Qualifying properties must be at least 50 years old, within the city limits and have architectural or historic features that contribute to the city’s social and/or aesthetic resources, according to the city announcement of the event. Properties named to the list have ranged from brick streets to the Blue Note, from Stephens Stables to several of Columbia’s churches.

For more information or to see what other properties have been named to this list, see Columbia’s Most Notable Properties, go to this City of Columbia page.

But maybe these Notable Properties don’t interest you. Or they do and you aren’t attending this event. Why are you missing the event? What properties would you like to see highlighted? What would make you turn out and what makes you interested — or avoid — Columbia history? I’d like to hear from you.



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