Couple to receive award for preserving downtown building

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 | 4:36 p.m. CST; updated 1:56 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Built in 1927 for Central Dairy by the Shepard & Wiser architectural firm of Kansas City, the building at 1104 E. Broadway has seen its share of businesses over the years.

These days, the old Central Dairy building is owned by Don and Carla Helmreich and houses the family business, Downtown Appliance, that began there in 1961.


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Restoration of the building started in 2004 and included work on the façade, repairing cracks and replacing rooftop urns that were knocked off. One was hit by lightning.

An outside stairwell was moved back to its original location, windows panes were replaced with reproductions of the originals, and the upstairs offices were transformed into apartments. Restoration work ended in September 2006.

Don and Carla Helmreich are set to receive a Preserve Missouri Award on Wednesday in Jefferson City for their restoration work. The annual award is given by Missouri Preservation, a not-for-profit organization involved in historic preservation efforts across the state.

“It’s one of the most impressive buildings in downtown Columbia,” said Barbara Fitzgerald, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation.

The inside of the building is all modern, from the showroom downstairs to the five upscale apartments on the second floor. What makes it “a bit unusual,” Carla Helmreich said, is the Beaux-Arts style terra cotta ornamentation of the exterior of the building.

The outside façade features golden brown flat-facing blocks, ornamental pieces and urns.

“It’s a special building,” said Debbie Sheals, a historic preservation consultant who worked with the Helmreichs. “The building features some of the best ornamental terra cotta in Columbia and is a great example of a business rehabbing a building and staying downtown. That family has been there for decades.”

Sheals said the Helmreichs reversed the modern changes to the building using historic pictures. She said the competition for the award is tough, as only 12 buildings will receive awards.

“It’s official recognition on a statewide level that this is a deserving project,” Sheals said.

The Helmreichs used federal and state tax credits to restore the building. Helmreich said the credits were critical.

“Probably, without the tax credits, I don’t think we could have done this,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned the building is now ready to go on for another 80 years.”

Last year the city of Columbia received the Preserve Missouri Award for the Howard and Gentry buildings. In 2006, the special business district of Columbia received the McReynold’s Award for planning and promoting the removal of the canopy.

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