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Columbia Missourian

Future of two St. Joseph Street houses still unclear

By Emma Kessinger
August 8, 2012 | 6:48 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It could come down to: Move it or lose it.

After public outcry halted demolition of the house at 308 St. Joseph St. it could end up being moved or salvaged for another historical home. Boone County Family Resources intends to use the site to build more housing for its clients. 

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The agency now wants to make the house available if someone wants to move it, said Robyn Kaufman, the interim executive director. She said several people have already shown interest in the house, believed to date back to the 1890s.

It is one of three homes the agency bought last year on St. Joseph Street to expand its facilities. They are within walking distance of the agency's headquarters at 1209 E. Walnut St. and close to public transportation for clients. 

One of them  — at 400 St. Joseph St. — has already been demolished. The houses at 302 and 308 St. Joseph St. are still awaiting a decision about their future.

“All along, our intent has been to use that property for residential purposes,” Kaufman said. 

The Historic Preservation Commission is fighting for the house at 308 St. Joseph St., Brent Gardner said. The commission will send a letter to Boone County Family Resources, asking that the agency:

If the agency decides to demolish the house, Gardner said salvaging pieces of the structure would be the most sustainable alternative.

Clyde Ruffin, president of the J.W. 'Blind' Boone Heritage Foundation, has expressed interest in using parts of the house in the renovation of the Blind Boone Home. He was intrigued by the front door and wood molding from the interior, Kaufman said.

Barbara Hoppe, Sixth Ward City Council representative, has also been keeping tabs on the house. She said she is interested in historic preservation and is familiar with the neighborhood.

Hoppe has been looking into the possibility of someone buying land the city has acquired over the years as a site for the house. She said she was recently contacted by a couple that seems interested in moving it.

“This is an opportunity for preserving a historic house for moderate- to low-income housing,” Hoppe said.

Adam Saunders lives on St. Joseph Street and said he sees its value for someone interested in a home with historical features.

At the same time, he said he's worried about what Boone County Family Resources will build on the lot. His main concern is upholding the characteristics and style of the neighborhood, though Saunders said the agency has voiced its intention to respect the height, setbacks and style of the neighborhood. 

He said he was pleased Kaufman was trying to work with the neighborhood.

The public is showing less interest in the house at 302 St. Joseph St., which doesn't seem to have any notable historical qualities, Kaufman said.

The houses will be discussed again at Boone County Family Resources board meeting on Sept. 5.