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.
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.