2014 Most Notable Properties

The City of Columbia will soon be hosting the 2014 Most Notable Historic Properties event! The Historic Preservation Commission invites you to join them in recognizing five notable historic properties and the property owners preserving them on April 1. The reception begins at 6:30pm in the lobby of the Historic Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway. The recognition program will begin at 7pm. RSVPS are appreciated.

Listed below are the five most notable historic properties of 2014.

Fairview Methodist Church-1320 S. Fairview Road

            Fairview Methodist Church began in 1899 when founders J.B. Turner, J.P. Turner, and W.P. Smith decided that their community needed a church building. They all chipped in and with the help of donations they were able to build the church, which was dedicated on June 30, 1901. It was named “Fairview” by early church member Lochie Turner Martin, because “it looked so pretty sitting up on top of the hill like it does.” This Church, located at the intersection of Fairview and Chapel Hill, became the namesake for those two roads as the City of Columbia began to grow to the south and west.

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The original church was built using vernacular architecture, a style of architecture based on local needs and construction materials, and reflecting local traditions and building practices.

It burned to the ground in September 1940 due to an overheated stove. Only a few seats, the piano, and the pulpit were saved. Church services were held at a nearby school until a new church building could be built.

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The new building, a concrete block structure, reflecting the recent lesson on the flammable nature of wood, was dedicated on July 5, 1942. The replacement structure, which is constructed of fireproof concrete blocks, includes interior finishes that were installed by a member of the congregation, James Dorsey Grant with help from Emmet Maxwell. The Grant family has a long connection to the property. James Dorsey Grant’s son, Robert E. Grant, still helps operate the cemetery, and his father, Elijah Grant, owned a farm directly across the street from the church for decades.

In 1959, members again came together to build the front steeple and bell tower. The bell installed in the steeple was originally in the Methodist Church in Ashland, Missouri.

As the congregation grew, a campaign for a newer, bigger building began. Construction began in 1969 and the congregation worshiped in the new building for the first time on the last Sunday of August 1970.

The congregation sold the property to Rex and Carol Nothbohm, who opened the Countryside Nursery School there in 1979.

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Now on its second owner, the Countryside Nursery School has had more than 3,000 students over the years. It is one of the longest operating day care facilities in the city.

While the interior of the building has been modified from its original ecclesiastic purpose, the exterior remains highly intact today. Other examples of adaptive reuse in Columbia’s historic inventory include Ragtag Cinema (formally the Coca Cola Bottling Co.) and the Blue Note, which was once the Varsity Theater.

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Fairview Cemetery- S. Fairview Road at Chapel Hill

Fairview Cemetery began in 1914 when Elijah Grant, Dorsey Grant, Roy Grant, and J.A. Buffon, all of whom lived nearby, decided to found the cemetery on October 31, 1914.

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It was a common tradition to bury family members on your own property but it became less and less popular as the years went on, and country church cemeteries began to flourish in Boone County. Other historic cemeteries in what is now the city limits of Columbia include the Jewell, Columbia, and Calvary cemeteries.

The founding members bought the small piece of land behind the church and divided it in lots that they sold for $7.50 a piece with eight grave sites in each lot. (That would be $160 per lot today.)

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The cemetery is still active today and holds the history of many families, including the Grant’s.

Lee School1208 Locust

Lee School was constructed in 1934 and is one of the oldest elementary school buildings in Columbia. It is only seven years newer than the oldest public elementary school, Thomas Hart Benton Elementary School, in the city to continuously operate at the same site.

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The original Lee School was built in 1904 at the corner of Waugh and Locust Streets, just west of the current building. It was opened in order to create more room for Benton and Jefferson Schools, the only other white elementary schools open at the time. The original four-room Lee School building was filled to capacity within a few years, prompting a large addition in the early 1920s. This addition was still unable to house enough students and by the 1930’s it was once again crowded as well as outdated.

In the 1930’s, the school board was able to take advantage of the federal public works program, which allowed for the construction of a large new professionally designed building on the lot next to the older school. It was one of several New Deal construction projects that took place in Columbia during the Great Depression. New Deal programs, which were developed by President Franklin Roosevelt to increase employment and lessen the impact of the Depression, funded public works projects across the country. Other New Deal historic properties in the city include the National Guard Armory and the Ellis Fischel State Cancer Hospital. (A complete list of Columbia’s New Deal buildings may be found here.)

The new Lee School was one of more than fifteen New Deal construction projects that were completed in Columbia during the Great Depression. The programs had a particularly strong impact upon educational facilities in Columbia; 12 of the 15 known local New Deal projects involved the construction of buildings for the University (Townshend Hall, Walter Williams Hall, and Ellis Library’s Northwest Addition are a few) and Columbia’s Public School system.

This plaque displays the schools year of erection and many important contributors and information including the president, vice president, builders, and architects.

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The prominent St. Louis architectural firm of Bonsack and Pearce designed Lee school. The firm began to emerge during the 1930s that specialized in school building architecture. They designed a number of New Deal funded schools across the state. They have been credited with at least 13 educational buildings in Missouri, including three in Columbia—the new Lee School, and large additions to Ridgeway and Douglass Schools.

The design of Lee school was based on the Collegiate Gothic style, which began in North America in the 1800s. Other schools designed with this same style include Princeton University and Washington University in St. Louis.

Pike, Francis, House-1502 Anthony

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This East Campus giraffe rock house was built in 1939 for local historian Francis Pike, one of Columbia’s most significant historians in the last half of the 20th century. Francis Pike was an employee of the Columbia Daily Tribune for 75 years; he authored several books as well as a popular history column called “Mid-Missouri Memoirs.” He was president of the State Historical Society of Missouri and a long-time member of the Boone County Historical Society. He was also a Mizzou graduate of the 1932 Journalism school.

Francis Pike brought the stones used for the exterior walls from southern Missouri. The house was built in the Tudor Revival style and offers a rare local example of a native stone construction method that is often referred to as “Ozark Rock” or “Giraffe Rock.” Architecturally, the house offers an interesting combination of refined Tudor Revival styling and vernacular masonry. The steeply pitched roof, arched porch openings, and ornamental half timbering of the gable ends are common elements of the Tudor Revival style, which was popular for houses in many parts of the country from the late 1910’s until around 1940. The next Most Notable Property, 905 S. Providence Road, shares this architectural style.

Buildings of the Ozarks region of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas inspired the stonework used on the Pike house walls. Ozark Rock construction features undressed stone, or rock, generally used just as it came from the field. This distinctive method developed in the Ozarks, where rock was often more plentiful than farmland. Streets of Ozarks towns are often lined with modest rock buildings that were built in the early part of the 20th century. Although still familiar locally, Ozark Rock is much less common this far north, and only a few examples can be found in Columbia. The highest concentration may be seen on, and in the vicinity, of Jewell Avenue.

Thornton, Bessie, and Dr. J.E., House-905 S. Providence Road

            This Tudor Revival style house was built for Dr. James E. Thornton and his wife Bessie W. Thornton in 1926. Dr. Thornton was a local physician who served on the Columbia Board of Education in the 1910s, and as a trustee and college physician for Stephens College in the 1920s.

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This house was one of the first plat buildings to be completed in the Grasslands Addition to Columbia. The Grasslands Addition plat was created by the Rollins family, on land originally owned by G. B. Rollins.  It was named for his farm, Grasslands, which included hundreds of acres at one point. The Grasslands Addition was laid out by nationally renowned planning firm Hare and Hare, and soon became a residential neighborhood of choice for prominent Columbians. The standard of houses in the Grasslands was very high and were all built to a high architectural standard in order to create a unified appearance. These restrictions were set to make the addition the most beautiful residential district of Columbia.

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The Thornton family moved into the house in 1927. However, Mr. Thornton died that same year, not living to enjoy the new house. Mrs. Thornton moved away soon after, but kept the house as rental property. One of the first tenants was another doctor, Claude R. Bruner, who later purchased the original G.B Rollins family home, which is located just a few doors north of this property which is now the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, a 2010 Most Notable Property. In the late 1940’s, the Thornton house was purchased by Dean Parks, the owner of Parks Department Store, which was a thriving downtown business for several decades in the mid 1900s.

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