COLUMBIA — Plans for a site to build a new State Historical Society of Missouri headquarters have moved from a handshake to a written agreement.
The city of Columbia, MU and the historical society have agreed to a memorandum of understanding that outlines the building project and specifies a downtown location.
Under the agreement, the society would build on an MU parking lot at Elm and Sixth streets adjacent to the Heinkel Building. The city agreed to let the society use a parking lot on Fifth Street between Cherry and Locust streets when the new headquarters is finished.
Gary Kremer, executive director of the historical society, said its board of trustees wanted to formalize a previous “handshake” agreement so it would be prepared if funding becomes available for the project.
Two years ago, the society lost its bid to receive federal stimulus money, and Kremer said fundraising remains on hold.
The vision for the project calls for a four-story building occupying 125,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet. The estimated cost is $30 million to $35 million.
“If the State Historical Society decides to do a fundraising campaign, having a memo of understanding will support their cause and secure the location,” Interim City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins said.
The society is crunched for space at its current location in MU's Ellis Library. Kremer said the construction would require that everything the society has in Ellis be moved, along with significant manuscript materials that are stored off-site at MU's records center on LeMone Industrial Boulevard.