While Missouri, and certainly Boone County, are not considered to be part of the South, there are a few reminders lingering in the area that remind central Missouri residents that we are not as far as we may think. One such reminder is the Guitar Mansion, one of the few remaining antebellum houses within the city of Columbia, and is, according to the National Register of Historic Places, a “near-perfect” example of the Italianate style. The Guitar Mansion, is located at 2815 Oakland Gravel Road in north-central Columbia on what was named Confederate Hill by later owners of the property.
The mansion and the surrounding property has switched ownership numerous times throughout its history and is currently owned, after a nearly three year vacancy, by Elena Vega, who unexpectedly bought the property at auction in 2010 for $155,500, with her husband, Patrick Westhoff. In addition to no shortage of restoration projects within the house, another project that Ms. Vega has undertaken is the restoration of the mansion’s original summer kitchen. This summer kitchen, as the name implies, would have been used as the primary cooking area during the hot summer months so as to keep the actual house cooler. There is also speculation that the summer kitchen could have been used at some point immediately after the Mansion’s construction as a slave cabin.
Ms. Vega has stated that she would like to restore the kitchen to working order while preserving as much of the original material as possible. She would also like to do the same with the mansion itself, however, in both cases, after several previous owners and restoration projects, a fair portion of the materials, especially within the house, are not original. Much of the kitchen will be restored with functionality in mind, meaning that not all materials could be original.
The existence, preservation, and renovation of this historic property serve to underscore the importance of this period of time in American history and further emphasize Missouri’s unique position along the brushstrokes painted from North to South and East to West across this country.