Columbia's West Broadway nominated for historic register

Architecture among the reasons for application
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — "W. Broadway, at limits."

That's how the 1907 Columbia city directory describes the Hulett house. It might seem odd now, but in the days when cart horses instead of cars sped down Broadway and farmland instead of pavement dominated the landscape, the home at 817 W. Broadway was on the edge of town.

Built in 1902, the Hulett House stands a comfortable 300 feet back from Broadway, which once was a gravel toll road to Rocheport. In the 107 years since, the population of Columbia has grown by almost 18 times, and Broadway has become one of the city's major thoroughfares. 

The rich history of the house and its neighbors along West Broadway is receiving new recognition as advocates lobby for the area to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic district, if approved, would extend from 300 to 922 W. Broadway, starting at the corner of McBaine Avenue and Broadway and extending past Greenwood Avenue.

Aside from prestige, placement on the registry most notably would make property owners eligible for 20 percent tax credits if they spend money to rehabilitate the historic homes. It also would qualify the properties for federal historic preservation grants, though no money for those grants is currently available, and it would require that the impact of any federal projects on the area be considered.

The nomination is based upon the historic architecture of area, with its early 20th century homes, as well as its part in the history of Columbia community planning.

“It lets us recognize that it is historic and gives us a chance to take a closer look at its history,” said Debbie Sheals, who wrote the nomination and lives in the area.

Sheals, who works as a historical preservation consultant, said the Historic West Broadway Neighborhood Association has been considering the idea for a while. She thinks it would benefit the area. She donated a significant amount of her  time to prepare the nomination.

She doesn’t foresee any problems with getting the application approved.

“The preservation office staff was supportive, and it is qualified,” Sheals said, referring to the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, which is a branch of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Tiffany Patterson, national register coordinator for the preservation office, said the nomination has merit and predicted the process would run smoothly.

“When you drive down Broadway, there is nice mix of time and place,” Patterson said.

The John and Elizabeth Taylor House at 716 W. Broadway, owned by Rob and Deborah Tucker, already is listed on the national register and operates as a bed-and-breakfast.

If approved, the listing would have no impact on city plans to widen Broadway through the neighborhood as long as the construction is completed without federal assistance.

The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation plans to discuss the nomination at its meeting at 9 a.m. Feb. 19, 2010, in the Lewis and Clark State Office Building in Jefferson City.

Residents opposed to the listing can send a notarized objection to the State Historic Preservation Office before the meeting. If a majority of property owners object, it would block the district from being listed on the register.

If the nomination is successful, West Broadway would become the fifth historic district in Columbia. The others are the Downtown, North Ninth Street, Francis Quadrangle and East Campus Historic districts.

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