Blind Boone Home to begin next phase of restoration

Monday, November 26, 2012 | 5:25 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – A donation from the John William Boone Heritage Foundation for a landscaping project at the J.W. Blind Boone Residence could be a catalyst to raise money for further work at the historic home in downtown Columbia.

The foundation donated $16,500 to the city to fund the project. The Parks and Recreation Department will oversee the project. 

The residence — also known as the "Blind" Boone home – is at 10 N. Fourth St. It was the home of famous ragtime pianist and composer John William Boone, also known as "Blind Boone," between 1889 and his death in 1927.

Boone's eyes were removed when he was less than a year old as a result of cerebral meningitis. Doctors removed his eyes to take pressure off his brain. 

The landscaping is part of an ongoing restoration project on which the foundation and the city have been collaborating for years. 

The garden will be called the "Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins" Inspiration Garden. Clyde Ruffin, chairman of the John William Boone Heritage Foundation, said "Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins," was Boone's life motto. 

The grounds will feature: 

  • An outdoor performance space for concerts and recitals. 
  • Engraved blocks from donors set in a retaining wall around the performance space. 
  • A patio with outdoor seating. 
  • A period garden, which will made up of flowers found in the area when Boone was alive. 

In 2009, the outside of the home was renovated. Funding for the restoration of the inside of the house is not in place. 

Ruffin said he hopes work on the garden will begin work in the spring.

Amy Schneider, director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, wrote in a Nov. 19 memo to the City Council that the garden would provide a gathering place for future fundraisers and help call the community's attention to the work that remains to be done inside the home.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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