Daniel Boone City Building to get a makeover

Monday, March 15, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:37 a.m. CDT, Monday, March 15, 2010
This photo illustration depicts what the Daniel Boone Building, left, would look like if it were painted to match the red brick of the new City Hall, right. The Daniel Boone Building's brick is naturally red, but painted to be yellow. Sandblasting the yellow paint from the structure would be more expensive than simply re-painting it red.

COLUMBIA — As City Hall renovations progress in the next couple of months, the yellow exterior of the Daniel Boone City Building will change to red.

The contractors in charge of City Hall's remodeling, K&S Associates of St. Louis, will paint the building to match the new addition. The exterior painting will be completed as part of the final phase of the City Hall renovation project, along with a restoration of the interior of the Boone Building, Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said.

Before its purchase by the city and Boone County in 1972, the building had been a hotel. According to Missourian archives, extensive renovations to the structure, costing more than $1 million, were necessary to accommodate space for both city and county government offices. As the renovations concluded in the late '70s, the building's dark red brick was painted yellow.

Although it is unclear exactly why the renovations included painting the brick yellow, Deb Sheals, a historic preservation consultant, guessed it can be attributed to '70s style.

Today, painting brick may seem odd, but according to Tom Heintz, an employee of K&S and supervisor of the project, it's commonly done on old buildings. In the past, many paints contained lead, so they would be hazardous to remove today.

St. Romaine said the city had originally looked into sandblasting to uncover the brick, but since the Boone Building had been painted with lead-based paint, removing it was not an option.

In addition to the danger in removing the paint because of its toxicity, it would be impossible to remove the paint without destroying the fragile brick underneath, Sheals said.

"Historic brick is like stale bread," she said. "It's hard on the outside and soft on the inside."

The good news is the paint will be almost identical to the color of the brick on the new addition, and the process shouldn't be exceedingly difficult, Heintz said. Before the paint is applied, the exterior of the building will be given a thorough cleaning to ensure the paint will adhere correctly. From there, the paint will be color-matched to the brick on the new addition.

Upon close scrutiny, it will be apparent the two buildings aren't identical, but from the street, it will not be noticeable, he said.

The process of re-painting will be slow and meticulous and will take a few months to complete. Fortunately, before the brick on the new addition was laid, the mortar was dyed to match the brick. This will speed up the process because painters won't have to paint the bricks and mortar separately, and it will be easier to match the colors of the two buildings, Heintz said.

He added that the exterior paint they will be using lasts for a long time, so touch ups won't be needed for quite a while.

Painting is just one part of the restoration project for the Boone Building. Interior work will begin in the next few weeks, and exterior painting will begin about a month and a half after that. Heintz said it might be three months before the painting is finished.

The city of Columbia's Web site estimates phase three of the project will be finished within a year of its initiation.

According to the Missourian, more than $26 million has been allotted for the entire City Hall renovation project with $22 million for the actual construction. The remainder will fund the street scape in front of the building, interior furnishings and other startup costs. Funds were acquired without raising taxes by a series of bond issues.

More information about the renovation and photographs of the first two phases of the project can be found at the city's Web site.

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