UPDATE: McDavid asks council to use surplus funds for 'Blind' Boone home renovations

Monday, February 18, 2013 | 8:13 p.m. CST; updated 10:42 p.m. CST, Monday, February 18, 2013
Since the city purchased the house in 2000, the Blind Boone home at 10 N. Fourth St. has sat empty.

COLUMBIA — Mayor Bob McDavid asked the Columbia City Council to use half a million dollars of budget surplus to complete the renovation of pianist John "Blind" Boone's home. 

Since its purchase by the city in 2000, the Blind Boone house has sat empty at 10 N. Fourth St. Extensive renovations to the exterior of the house were completed in 2009, but the inside is unusable.


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"It needs heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and all the wiring," McDavid said.

Clyde Ruffin, chair of the J.W. "Blind" Boone Foundation, described the house as a shell. 

"The $500,000 would complete everything," Ruffin said.

The foundation itself has been fundraising for improvements on the house. It has raised $26,000 for an outdoor tribute garden where small concerts could be held, Ruffin said. But the organization still needs an additional $10,000 to get that project under way.

If approved, the $500,000 would come from Columbia's $1.9 million surplus in general funds, which McDavid attributes to "having a very disciplined city manager and carefully managing the city budget." 

"This surplus is an ideal pool of money to handle unfinished business," McDavid said. "It's a matter of philosophy of what to do with this money."

McDavid proposes that $500,000 go toward completing the renovation of the Blind Boone home and the remaining $1.4 million of the surplus go toward maintaining Columbia's roads.

The interior of the home would be done to reflect Victorian-era style, using original photographs to best recreate the appearance of the house, Ruffin said. 

"We want the house to be a part of the community, not just a monument sitting there," he said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Skip Yates February 18, 2013 | 11:42 p.m.

I wonder how much money this failed project has swallowed thus far.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 19, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.

I don't know, Skip, having aleady gone this far it could make sense to finish the job. However, I would like to know how much the completed home will economically enhance tourism in Columbia, thus benefiting ALL citizens.

My siding with Professor Ruffin's stance could be influenced by the fact that he is an honored alumnus of University of Iowa. Yes, Skip, I realize that I shouldn't allow such things influence me.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates February 19, 2013 | 6:55 a.m.

I see your point Ellis; however, I can't help but remember the "tourists off I-70" rant for the YouZeum (or whatever it was called) and the late night phone calls that took the Federal Building from Columbia Public Schools and gave it to the city.It was a building CPS had plans for then suddenly changed their mind in the 11th hour, allowing the tax payers to continue expensive leasing of properties for the school system for another 10 years. I am a music lover, particularly jazz, and if I were traveling through Columbia on I-70, I just couldn't see myself breaking off my trip to visit it.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 19, 2013 | 7:46 a.m.

@ Skip Yates:

Agreed, fellow jazz enthusiast. I tend to run more toward the late Stan Kenton than to classic jazz. Have you ever attended the annual Bix Festival in July in Davenport, Iowa?

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 19, 2013 | 8:12 a.m.

Ellis - Kenton was in Columbia and visited the owner of Cottage Record Shop, in the rear of Hopper-Pollard Drug Store,between 9th&10th 0n Broadway. Their soda fountain was home away from home for all we kids.

Kenton and the shop owner had been talking at the counter. When they returned to the shop Kenton left his pack of Camel cigarettes on the counter. He returned and asked the "soda jerk" if those might be his cigarettes? The little girl barely managed to eek out, "yes", to which Kenton (arrogantly imo)replied, would you mind sharing them with me?

A truly memorable incident, was it not?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 19, 2013 | 10:28 a.m.

What a horrible idea and a waste of tax money.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates February 19, 2013 | 4:01 p.m.

Stan Kenton/Julie Christi...a great 33rpm record......

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 20, 2013 | 7:31 a.m.

@ Skip Yates:

Kenton is still available on CDs, by Capitol and some other brands. I recommend going to Amazon. "Misty Miss Christy" is also available, Capitol only, from the same source.

June Christy teamed up with Pete Rugolo to produce several albums, some of which are available (Capitol, same source). Pete handled the arrangements and the orchestra.

When Christy went to work for Kenton, at the ripe old age of 19, her real name was Shirley Luster. Stan felt that name sounded too much like a household cleaning product! June had terrible health problems and was only 64 when she died.

(Report Comment)

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