St. Joseph Street Builders Cottage

The Kennans purchased their home in 2006 and have renovated it through the City of Columbia’s Rehabilitation Program. Built between 1900 and 1907, this “Gabled Ell” House (Gable-Front-and-Wing, Plains Cottage) is located on St. Joseph Street. This style property was popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Gabled Ells were also common in “dressing up” the property with minor elements of high style architecture, especially with front porches, seen with this property. Though this home has been around for a hundred-plus, the street address has always been 305, even though this was not the historical trend.

The Keenans worked with the original structure of the home adding only minor exterior changes such as the shutters.

The Keenans worked with the original structure of the home adding only minor exterior changes such as the shutters. This picture shows the final exterior!

The Keenans were drawn to the St. Joseph property because of their love for historical homes and the North Village area in Columbia. Both have lived downtown Columbia for the majority of their time as residents. While looking for a historic home in downtown Columbia, the Keenans jumped on the chance to purchase their home and quickly fell in love with it.

One of the first property owners were John H. and Elizabeth Asbury who moved there after their retirement from farming. In 1923, John A. Cavanaugh, who was an engineer with the University of Missouri, moved into the property. Cavanaugh, with his wife, Mollie, lived in the home until 1933 when he moved to Kansas City as a stationary engineer. In 1940, J. Frank and Irene Spencer became the owners. Mr. Spencer served as a fireman for Columbia and also worked with the University of Missouri. With the current property owners, it would seem that the cycle has come full circle. Through research, the homeowners found that their single family home was the Asbury’s dream retirement home, same as it is to them.

The Keenans began their major renovation in 2009 and while they consider their project ongoing, they have moved from major fixes to more cosmetic renovations. Through utilizing local renovation programs such as the City of Columbia’s Rehabilitation Program and a local weatherization program through Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA), the renovation became a reality. The Keenans also had to do a lot of major work such as foundation work to secure their home, a new partial roof, adding insulation and consistent wiring throughout. While these major projects may seem intimidating, the Keenans had a great team of contractors to help them through. They also renovated their kitchen and bathroom up to modern conveniences. In order to add more flow, due to the lack of hallways in their home, the Keenans took out the wall separating the kitchen and living room. All of the major renovations worked to make their home up to modern code and more energy efficient.

With all major renovations completed, the Keenans have shifted to more cosmetic changes. For the exterior, the Keenans have also repainted their home and made minor addition, like trim and shutters. With these cosmetic changes, the homeowners have strived to keep the spirit of their historic home alive by following its architectural details. They stayed true to the 6-panel doors throughout the home when replacing them and reused the cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom by using a more-modern color palette and adding features that fit their style. Every renovation effort strives to keep the spirit of the North Village Arts District alive in hopes of inspiring families to renovation the historic homes just as the Keenans have.

Kitchen Area Before

Here is the after picture of the kitchen. This is a great example of the how the Keenans reused various materials throughout the home by just updating them cosmetically, like the cabinets with paint.

Here is the after picture of the kitchen. This is a great example of the how the Keenans reused various materials throughout the home by just updating them cosmetically, like the cabinets with paint.

The Keenans stress patience when working with older homes! Things can turn up but the end result is worth it. They worked with a great group of talented contractors that helped keep the project inexpensive. The owners also utilized various rehabilitation programs that made the project doable for them and would highly suggest looking into the resources the city offers! Their renovations are not done yet with future plans to redo the floors throughout the home. Below the Keenans have recommended a few contractors for historic property owners.

Thank you to the Keenans for their assistance in this article and also for their dedication to historic preservation in the City of Columbia.

Until Next Time, Teagan (the current HPC Intern)

Suggested Contractors:

-RDH Construction for general contracting needs (573-826-8125)

-Cal-Air Mechanical LLC for air conditioning needs (573-544-5423)

-Enrich Construction for roofing

-Joe Coke of Kraftwerks for woodworking and carpentry (573-355-2477)

***Pictures were taken by the property owners.

***Historical research of the home is credited to Deb Sheals, who was contracted by the homeowners.

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