COLUMBIA — Crowds gathered under a chandelier-lit painting of Daniel Boone on Wednesday evening for the rededication of the newly renovated Daniel Boone City Building.
The Boone Building, which has overlooked Broadway for nearly a century, now houses more than 250 city employee offices.
Mark Neckerman, information technology manager for Columbia, moved into his new office last month.
“I spent 13 years in the basement,” Neckerman said. “It got to the point where every time it rained, we had water down there.”
The entire Information Technology Department is now located in new offices on the second floor.
Other departments had been spread out in pockets around town before moving into the Daniel Boone City Building. John Blattel, director of the Finance Department, reminisced on how finance offices had been located in various basements up and down Eighth Street. Now, the Finance Department looks down over Columbia through a full wall of windows on the fifth floor.
Throughout the evening, about 60 people from around Columbia toured the new facilities, chatted with staff and listened to presentations by Mayor Bob McDavid and the Boone County Historical Society.
The rededication marked the end of a four-year process to revitalize the Daniel Boone City Building. The Daniel Boone Hotel and Tavern opened in 1917. At the time, the extravagant $135,000 building was considered the best hotel between Kansas City and St. Louis, said Bill Crawford, former president of the Boone County Historical Society.
The hotel permanently closed its doors in the 1960s. After a fire in the early 1970s, the City of Columbia and Boone County bought the building and moved in. City offices have been located there since 1975.
In recent years, the Boone Building became what Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine described as “an inadequate, outdated workplace.” And in 2007, the city began the $26.8 million renovation project.
The remodeled building seeks to tie together the history of the hotel with a commitment to Columbia’s future. Artifacts from Missouri’s past are located throughout the building’s five floors along with high-efficiency windows, lights and plumbing. And hanging on the wallpaper, made of woven grass, are faded black-and-white photos of Columbia from the time when the Daniel Boone City Building was first built.