Parks and Rec and Historic Preservation discuss options for Maplewood Barn

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | 8:39 p.m. CDT; updated 11:08 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 19, 2010

COLUMBIA — Their tables were arranged to look like a face-off, but the discussion was civil as the Historic Preservation Commission and the city Parks and Recreation Department weighed the future of Maplewood Barn.

“It was not our intent to set up the furniture like this,” Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Brian Treece joked with the Parks and Recreation members at Tuesday's meeting.


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Five months after the historic Maplewood Barn in Nifong Park burned down, Steve Saitta, Columbia Parks and Recreation Department superintendent of park planning and development, met Sept. 7 with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

There, he presented two preliminary sketches of replacement barn options. The commission responded negatively to both plans, saying that neither option would preserve the historic nature of the original structure.

The two groups met again Tuesday afternoon to clarify their expectations of a replacement structure and to see if they could move closer to a compromise.

Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood opened the meeting by highlighting the indisputable tragedy of losing the original Maplewood Barn, and emphasizing the importance of the barn to the community. 

Treece, representing a group that at one point expressed reservations about rebuilding the barn, agreed. “Please know that we share your view that the barn should be replaced," he said.

The two groups then shared their suggestions and concerns with each other about options for construction.  

The commission emphasized that a replacement structure should resemble the original barn as closely as possible, using materials and stylistic elements true to its original 1880s form.

Committee members also voiced concern that funding from the city might go toward a new structure that could potentially be abandoned by the Maplewood Barn Theatre Company, should it someday decide to put on productions elsewhere.

This led to discussion as to whether a new structure should have considerable interior elements to accommodate events year round, such as a museum.

Treece said that he wasn’t opposed to modern interior elements, but said, “I want to build a barn. I don’t want to build a theatre.”

By the end of the meeting, the two groups agreed that the new barn should look like its predecessor, but the commission will continue to address questions over the interior as well as a possible addition of an overhang.

As the meeting drew to a close, Hood said, “We’re making some progress here.”

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Ray Shapiro October 19, 2010 | 9:28 p.m.

Personally, I would like to see the Mayor coordinate a serious meeting with representation from the City's Disability Commission, to ensure that any new construction is brought up to modern day ADA code, the Maplewood Barn Theatre group, (so that they can have the best venue for their performers and audience), and the Parks and Recreation Commission so that volunteers other than this "Preservation group" can have adequate input on how to reasonably proceed with this project.
This unfortunate fire left a heap of ashes which should now be seen as an opportunity to make something new, better and most practical, for our entire community.
The original barn is gone. Time to build something new, in homage to the barn. We can do without building another shack. A rather expensive shack at that.
Considering that the city's building of Grindstone Parkway has put Nifong Park off the beaten path, (there's no longer a Nifong exit on 63 and that part of town is more desolate than ever), perhaps a small memorial structure or marker would be more appropriate and the Maplewood Barn Players could enjoy a more modern facility at a more built up area like maybe Stephens Lake Park.
(Isn't this the same commission which wants to dig up the streets downtown and expose/rebuild brick pavers so that pedestrians, bicycles and ice and snow removal can experience some old-day hazards? Leave those bricks buried where they belong.)
Preserve what exists, if that what floats your boat, but excavating and building an exact recreation sounds more like a private venture than something the city should be involved in.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 19, 2010 | 10:07 p.m.

If they want a barn, maybe my brother and I should sell them the spare barn on the family farm (VOTE YES ON PROP 1! BUY MY BARN!), but I don't think it will satisfy the desire for the luxurious farm manor.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 19, 2010 | 11:35 p.m.

Who's preserving those smelly pigs that are penned right near that old barn site?
That might be a good project for the Preservation Commission to pursue. Last time I checked, they were still alive and squealing in the Nifong Park mud.
The old barn is gone.
Go save the pigs.

(Report Comment)

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