The house at 10 N. Fourth St., once home to J.W. “Blind” Boone, a musician who lived from 1864-1927, was renovated and a grand opening was held September 2016. The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
A website went up in July 2010 to publicize the efforts, educate people and to provide a place where people can learn and make contributions.
The home of John William “Blind” Boone at 10 N. Fourth Street is a perfect example of history that could have been lost, but for the efforts of dedicated volunteers and public funding.
The residence of an African-American pianist who played and composed ragtime and classical music and resided in Columbia until his death in 1927, it was nearly lost to renovations and decay.
Boone was one of the most famous men from Columbia, but after his death in 1927, his home was sold and once housed the Stuart Parker Memorial Funeral Home and then the Warren Funeral Chapel. The Warren enterprise was the only African-American-owned business to survive the urban renewal razing of the 1960s, according to a Special Business District and Central Columbia Association website publication.
But when the city purchased the home in 2000, it had termites and structural damage. It required nearly half a million dollars in improvements.
The home itself isn’t very special; it is simply a two-story wood frame home, but the history it embodies is priceless. Despite being born during the Civil War and then becoming blind through efforts to reduce a fever by removing his eyes, Boone’s slogan as a touring pianist and composer was “Merit, Not Sympathy Wins.”
In 2012, a ragtime festival named in his honor, “The Original ‘Blind” Boone Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival,” was held on June 9 and 10, 2010 in the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts on Ninth Street.
A play about his life, “Nobody plays like Boone,” was performed on May 16, 2010 in the Second Baptist Church, 407 East Broadway, Columbia and on May 21, 6:30 p.m. in The Blue Note Theatre at 17 North 9th Street, Columbia.
For more information about the Boone home and its history, see these two articles: