COLUMBIA — The concrete bases of the historic MU Columns are undergoing repairs to fix hairline fractures.
The damages are the result of water getting inside small cracks. When the water freezes inside the cracks, it expands, causing the cracks to get bigger.
"We don't want the hairline fractures to become big cracks," said Karlan Seville, campus facilities communications manager. "We're trying to prevent that."
The cost for the repairs by International Architects Atelier Inc. in Kansas City are estimated at $178,371.
The original bases were replaced in 1949, Seville said in an e-mail, and no significant repairs have taken place since then. The current repairs include putting fiber around the bases and adding a concrete layer to protect the bases from future cracking. The bases will be evaluated every few years to make sure no further repairs are necessary.
The limestone MU Columns themselves are not undergoing any repairs.
"They're really in excellent shape considering their age and the fact that they've been out in the elements all this time," said Peter Millier, director of landscape services and Mizzou Botanic Garden.
In the past, the MU Columns, as well as several buildings on Francis Quadrangle, were covered in ivy. This was originally done to make the campus look more like an ivy league school, Millier said.
The ivy was removed, however, because it damages the structures. Its roots grow into the mortar, where it will continue growing and cracking the mortar. All of the ivy was removed by the end of the 1980s, according to an e-mail from Gary Cox, reference archivist for the University Archives.
The MU Columns were originally part of Academic Hall, which was built between 1840 and 1843. Academic hall burned down on Jan. 9, 1892, in an electrical fire.