Demolition of two St. Joseph Street houses debated

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | 8:32 p.m. CDT; updated 4:10 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 6, 2012

COLUMBIA — The home at 308 St. Joseph St. should not be demolished by Boone County Family Resources because it is historically significant, the vice chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission said Wednesday.

Brent Gardner and two other members of the commission, Patrick Earney and Brian Treece, toured the home and another at 302 St. Joseph St. on Wednesday afternoon with representatives of Boone County Family Resources. Gardner said the commission will write a letter to the agency asking it to delay the demolition of 308 St. Joseph until it has a definitive plan for how to use the lot.

Officials at Boone County Family Resources, which provides services to people with disabilities in an effort to help them live independently, reached no decision Wednesday about whether to continue with their demolition plans. They have said they want to use the lots to build houses for clients.

Family Resources Associate Director Robyn Kaufman said that the properties are conveniently close to the agency's headquarters at 1209 E. Walnut St. That would allow clients learning to live on their own to be within walking distance, she said.

Gardner said after the meeting that he hopes the preservation commission can save the light-blue house at 308 St. Joseph St. He thinks the house dates back to the 1890s. The window trim and the front porch posts are unique to that era, he said.

“I think that house is worth salvaging,” Gardner said. The house at 302 St. Joseph, however, doesn't appear to be significant, he said.

The commission also wants to involve representatives of the neighborhood association and perhaps find a lot to which they could move the house if Family Resources decides to proceed with its plans.

Gardner hopes a decision that will make both sides at least somewhat satisfied is attainable, given the ongoing discussions.

Siblings Adam and Lindsey Saunders, who live down the street from the two houses in question, attended the meeting. Their house has been named a "Most Notable Historic Property" in Columbia. They don’t want the houses owned by Family Resources to be demolished. 

Lindsey Saunders said she welcomed Wednesday's conversation. She thinks it's important that the neighborhood keep all the houses in the area that have historic characteristics. Otherwise, the identity of the neighborhood will change, she said.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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