COLUMBIA — The historic shotgun house on Garth Avenue officially escaped demolition last month and will soon join the growing Boone Junction historical village at Nifong Park in the next few months, provided the owners can find the money to make the move.
The Boone County Historical Society, the Columbia City Council and property owners Brian Treece and Mike Martin finished plans in June to relocate the house to Nifong Park. After much discussion about whether to move it there or to a property at 411 N. Fifth St. adjacent to Douglass Park, Treece said the city decided Boone Junction would be the most feasible location.
Were the house transplanted to the Fifth Street site, the city would have had to foot the bill for the entire project. Budgeting for the relocation would have forced the Parks and Recreation Department to eliminate other projects or to reduce them in scope, according to a feasibility report submitted to the council on May 8.
The historical society has agreed to pay $17,700 in materials and labor to restore the shotgun house at Boone Junction, but it would not have been involved financially with a move to the Fifth Street tract.
“BCHS could not have an official rolel (sic) in moving or furnishing the house if the decision is to move it to Fifth Street,” society President Gary Smith said in a letter published with the feasibility report.
First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz, who had lobbied for moving the house to Fifth Street, said that while the move to Nifong Park might be the best strategy in the short run, he might revisit the issue in the future.
“I would like to see a move in the next few years to a black historical district,” he said, adding that such a location would link the shotgun house to other community landmarks.
Shotgun houses, which are narrow, rectangular homes in which rooms are lined up in a row, represented a quick and inexpensive form of architecture in urban areas beginning in the 1920s. But many of them have been demolished in the name of urban renewal. According to a May 25 Missourian article, Treece and Martin saw an opportunity to preserve an important piece of history in the home located at Garth and Worley.
The home’s owners now are turning their attention to finding money for foundation and relocation expenses. Meanwhile, the uncertainty about funding makes the timetable for the move indefinite.
“We’re still waiting on final donations of concrete and foundation materials,” Treece said.
Columbia Builds Youth, a nonprofit group associated with Job Point, is considering helping out with the foundation expenses.
David Sapp, former president of the historical society, doubts the relocation process will begin before August. “It might conceivably be delayed,” he said.
Both the city of Columbia and the shotgun house owners are anxious to get the house moved. The house is in dangerous condition, a situation that prompted the city to file an application for permission to demolish the structure. Although the city has backed off the demolition, the owners worry about insurance liability.
As part of the Boone Junction historical village, the shotgun house’s structure will be restored from the inside out. Sapp estimates the restoration process will take about six months, as much of it will be done by volunteers and will take place over the winter.
“I think spring of next year is very realistic,” Sapp said of the timeline for opening the home to the public.
The house will also be furnished with artifacts to appear historically relevant, and the historical society staff will provide docents and a caretaker.
In addition to the shotgun house, the society has acquired two other historic structures. One is a single-story folk Victorian house built in 1890, which is now along Highway 63. The other is a Lustron house, a kit-home structure designed during the housing shortage after World War II to be built quickly and economically.