Money for J.W. 'Blind' Boone Home renovations approved

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 | 8:38 p.m. CDT; updated 9:06 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 4, 2013

COLUMBIA — The home of ragtime musician and pianist J.W. "Blind" Boone will soon receive a much-needed makeover.

On Monday, the Columbia City Council approved spending $326,855 to complete the restoration of the J.W. "Blind" Boone Home at 10 N. Fourth St. The money will be used for interior renovations and the construction of a garden. After renovations are complete, the home will function as a heritage center where the community can gather and appreciate the legacy of Boone.

Clyde Ruffin, president of the John William Boone Heritage Foundation, said the home will be a place for meetings, exhibits, public programs and musical performances. 

"Our goal as a foundation has always been to ensure that this home will stand as a lasting tribute to the greatness of John W. Boone, and as a means to tell the story of this inspiring musician and civic leader whose life transcended the limitations of disability and race," Ruffin said during the City Council meeting.

Ruffin said the home will also include a small display of Boone-related artifacts and auditory renditions of Boone's inspiring compositions.

Lucille Salerno, a board member of the Boone Heritage Foundation since 1997, said she has worked to elevate the home from local to national significance. 

The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 as part of the group "Social Institutions of Columbia's Black Community." Salerno said this made the home a national treasure, something the new renovations will help preserve. 

Columbia resident Anthony Stanton urged the council to consider employing local minority businesses for completing the renovations. He said it would be a perfect opportunity to involve local artisans in the construction process.

" 'Blind' Boone is global," Stanton said. "Because without ragtime there would be no jazz, and there's nothing more American than jazz."

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said she was "pleased and impressed" with the vision that the Boone Heritage Foundation presented and said the updated home will benefit the community of Columbia.

"The restored Boone Home will be a place overflowing with children, creativity and the celebration of life," Ruffin said. 

Working with the John William Boone Heritage Foundation, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department reviewed two recent estimates for renovating the property and presented an itemized list to the council. It included:

  • $117,719 for interior construction, including replacement and restoration of the ceiling, walls and floors.
  • $34,750 for mechanical installation of utilities, heating, air conditioning and ventilation units.
  • $34,715 for building a garden on the property.
  • $22,000 for installing a fire sprinkler system and alarms.
  • $17,600 for the stairwell. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs has said that while the stairs will be restored to their original design, they will need to be supported by a steel frame to ensure the staircase is up to code.
  • $17,500 for electrical work.
  • $16,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment.
  • $10,000 for replacing "portions" of siding and repainting the exterior of the home. At Monday's council meeting, City Manager Mike Matthes said that while the building was painted in 2008, the lack of an air conditioning or heating system has meant that the exterior of the house has not been protected from the elements.
  • $1,580 for interior renovation to the chimney.
  • $26,186.38 in contingency funds for structural issues that might require areas of the renovation to cost more than their original estimate.
  • $28,805 for design contingencies, including design plans, fees and building permits.

Griggs,the parks director, said that despite current cost estimates, specific amenities such as furniture, audio-visual equipment and the garden will be a secondary priority to the overall restoration and usability of the property.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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Corey Parks June 4, 2013 | 9:49 p.m.

Good thing all the other problems with infrastructure and potholes such are fixed. Would hate to have seen that much money to go a home that is about to fall down any month now.

(Report Comment)
Nathan Whitaker June 5, 2013 | 6:22 a.m.

Oh come on Cory. This is definitely the best use for this money in the entire city of Columbia. For example, there is absolutely nothing more important to spend "$34,715" of our money on than "for building a garden on the property". Seriously, without a "heritage center where the community can gather", this entire city would descend into utter chaos. And truly, what better way to honor an "inspiring musician and civic leader whose life transcended the limitations of disability and race" than to discriminate based on race when selecting companies to complete the renovations? I'm sure that Anthony Stanton would agree, "there's nothing more American than jazz", except for racism.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders June 5, 2013 | 10:25 a.m.

A million dollar boondoggle. Insanity has been fully institutionalized. This is nothing more than politicians favorite pastime of putting lipstick on a pig, in order to get in front of the cameras looking all "leader-like."

Anyone who is not absolutely disgusted by this fails to understand the parasitism at work here, and its effects upon society. Simply put, "we" cannot afford this level of spending to provide services that no one would voluntarily do on their own.

(Report Comment)

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