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Historic Guitar Mansion sold to surprised bidder

“It’s my dream to live in an historic home; I just don’t know if I can afford it.”
Monday, October 18, 2010 | 5:17 p.m. CDT; updated 10:41 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Prospective bidders gather in front of the Guitar Mansion on Monday. A former bed and breakfast, the Civil War-era property drew bidders from all over Missouri. The property sold for $155,500.

 COLUMBIA — It is more than an old home. The Guitar Mansion has survived the Civil War and other historical sea changes. It has gone through care and bustle, neglect and vacancy. It has been a family home, a business and a bed and breakfast.

And it will remain standing.

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In a public auction on Monday, run by United Country Auction Services, the Guitar Mansion and six acres surrounding it on Oakland Gravel Road were sold for $155,500 to Elena Vega of Columbia, who outbid interested people from all over the country.

Vega hadn't come to the auction to bid, however. She came to watch — a lover of historical homes who wanted a last look at a piece of Columbia history.

“I just came to take photos,” Vega said. “I love to see historic homes.”

But when bidding began lower than she expected, at $75,000, she was moved to raise her rectangular marker. The bidding was largely between Vega and one other person.

Vega’s plans for the north Columbia home remain undecided, but she has no intention of leveling it.

“It’s my dream to live in an historic home; I just don’t know if I can afford it,” Vega said, referring to potential renovation and upkeep.

After the bidding closed and Vega was announced the winner, she was overwhelmed with happy greetings from new neighbors. A fan of old houses, former U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, was present and offered his congratulations to Vega.

The home was built in 1862 by David Guitar, who held Southern sympathies during the Civil War, for his family of 10 children, Columbia historian David Sapp said.

His brother, Odon, was a brigadier general for the Union.

At the time it was built, the property comprised 27 acres of land, which included a cemetery and quarters for the slaves David Guitar owned.

The home has gone through many stages. Sapp said it was nicknamed “Confederate Hill” by author Ward A. Dorrance, who lived on the property in the 1940s and used it for the setting of his novel, “The Sundowners.”

According to information from the State Historical Society of Missouri:

In 1956, Harvey and Miriam McCaleb bought the home and lived there until 1997, when Mrs. McCaleb died. It was then bought by Jeff Bradley, who turned it into an outdoor events-related business. But money issues caused Bradley to deed the house to Premier Bank in September of 2000.

In 2002, Noel and Mary Ann Crowson purchased the home and renovated it for $750,000. The couple turned it into a bed and breakfast in 2004, but three years later in 2007, the bank foreclosed to loan on the house. It has remained vacant since. 

The home is a neighborhood landmark and fodder for ghost stories. Some include seeing the ghost of one of Guitar's sons, who is said to have committed suicide in the house, and seeing the ghosts of slaves running around the property. 

"It was so scary, walking up here," said Patti Sears, who attended the auction and who used to trick-or-treat at the home during the 1950s when she was a teenager. "This place was like a mystery."


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