Columbia City Council to request $225,000 for 'Blind' Boone home repairs

Friday, April 10, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
The City Council will hold a public hearing April 20 on the planned renovation of the outside of the historic J.W. "Blind" Boone home at Fourth Street and Broadway. Upon council approval, the Convention and Visitors Bureau will provide $225,000 for the exterior renovation.

COLUMBIA — Tourists and residents by early fall should be able to see the outside of the historic J.W. "Blind" Boone home restored to its original state, thanks to an infusion of money from the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The City Council on Monday scheduled a public hearing on the project for its regular meeting on April 20. The city manager and staff are seeking a total of $225,000 to convert the home, which for years was the Warren Funeral Chapel, to its appearance during the time Boone lived in it.


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Lorah Steiner, executive director of the tourism bureau, said restoring the home is important.

“I think it’s incumbent upon every community to preserve the best they can its history," Steiner said, adding that Boone was an important figure in Columbia’s history.

“He was instrumental in the development of ragtime and early jazz," Steiner said. "He helped pioneer an entire genre of music. He was also an important figure in the black community.”

Because the Boone home, 10 N. Fourth St., is on the National Register of Historic Places, the city must strive to do a restoration that brings it as close as possible to its original state. That also will be important to those who visit the home, Steiner said.

“People want to see what it looks like when they (the historic figures) lived there because it gets them closer to the person,” she said.

Boone lived in the home from 1889 until his death in 1927. He is known as one of the pioneers of both early jazz and ragtime music.

Steiner said that once the home has been completely refurbished, the tourism bureau also hopes it will give visitors a chance to hear oral histories of African-Americans who lived in the same time period as Boone and memories from people still living who remember the musician.

The tourism bureau is working with the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation to begin raising money to refurbish the interior of the home, though it will be awhile before that can happen.

“We’re getting collateral ready to go,” Steiner said. The tourism bureau and the foundation also are working on a campaign folder and brochure.

The exterior construction has been tentatively scheduled to begin in May and end in September. Interior construction most likely will begin sometime after that.

According to a report to the council written by Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins, the money for outside renovation will be used to get rid of lead and asbestos, repair siding, paint, replace 14 windows and two doors, weatherproof the home and build a rear addition.

Alternates in the city's bid specifications include the installation of new wood shutters, demolition of an existing rear addition and salvage materials.

The project design is already complete and bidding has begun. All bid documents are due April 21, the day after the public hearing. Following the public hearing, the council is likely to adopt an ordinance authorizing the work.

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Ray Shapiro April 10, 2009 | 12:36 a.m.

Humane Society volunteers can join forces and recruit some of Jamestown's Amish to help whitewash that building and then give the 1/4 million dollars to the animal shelter..

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 10, 2009 | 1:07 a.m.

Gotta convince the CVB to do it Ray, it's not city money that is being used here.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 10, 2009 | 1:17 a.m.

My main concern would be the asbestos and lead problem. I would hope the CVB and city council would consider this an opportunity to help the much publicized dog pound which is in dire straits. The mayor did his grandstanding for CMHS and this would be a good project for him to discuss with Bill Watkins. The only problem I could see would be with contractors who really-really want the money.
I'm just throwing out an idea here...

(Report Comment)
John M. Nowell, III April 10, 2009 | 5:59 a.m.

I hope that the funds will be available to restore the interior at some future date also. He used to preform in the Haden Opera House at the NE Corner of Broadway and 9th Street, which is still the Haden building housing Commerece Bank. The Opera house burned around 1900. Boone's custom made piano is on display at the Walter's Historical Museum on Ponderosa Drive, if interested. An important part of Columbia's history.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Dugan April 10, 2009 | 10:11 a.m.

Once again, another waste of our tax payer dollars.... I guess this is what we get for only having 10% of the population vote in our city council elections!!!!!! This project will do nothing for the City's tourism. Now a NEW hotel and convention center would be a much better start! Or perhaps we could pave the damn trails so that we can use them in bad weather..... Oh no wait, that would upset 12 people and we wouldn't want to do that in a town of over 100,000......

(Report Comment)
Clara Allen April 10, 2009 | 11:32 a.m.

Now a NEW hotel and convention center would be a much better start!

No, not really. Columbia is not a convention destination in large part because there's not a lot to do here. There is, however, a fair selection of facilities capable of hosting convention type business.

When I travel one of the first things I check out is the existence of museums in and on the way to my destination. Sometimes the museum is the destination. I really like the concept of this museum.

Columbia has never been much of a museum town. Lots of people travel to Columbia for lots of different reasons. This museum might actually turn into a destination, bringing families, and even groups, to town.

Civic leadership doesn't seem to be putting this all together in a way that the public 'gets' it. What's up with that? Is it disorganization? Ingrained Peter Principle level competence? Problems of honesty and openness with the public?

This is the goal.
This is why this is the goal.
Yes, there will be individuals who benefit from this.

It would work a whole lot better than surreptitiously putting eminent domain on the table and hiding things in consent agendas.

Just saying.

(Report Comment)
Clara Allen April 10, 2009 | 11:38 a.m.

Maybe it's because it's city manager form of government?

Ya think?

(Report Comment)

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