COLUMBIA — The house at 1513 Rosemary Lane, built in 1915, was crowded Thursday afternoon. Twelve people gathered in the hallway around Bob Yapp and watched him scrape off a large stain on the wood floor.
After a while, Yapp asked everyone to have a try.
They were attending the first hands-on session of a three-day historic preservation workshop Yapp conducted. Thursday’s topic was how to repair and restore wood floors.
"There is very little literature, very little resource out there for this practical knowledge," said Steven Campbell, who has served on the Heritage Commission in Independence.
"I'm excited. It's everything I expected in there," Campbell said after the workshop.
The Columbia Historic Preservation Commission chose Yapp to lead the workshop after looking at proposals from more than 100 possible instructors.
Yapp had a dream of becoming a historic preservation expert when he was a kid, working side by side with his father in his woodworking shop in Des Moines, Iowa. At the time, Yapp just held tools for his father and did what work he could. He said his father had a huge influence on him.
"We don’t own homes; we are just stewards," Yapp said his father told him. "We have the responsibility to do good works so that the next family can enjoy the homes as much as we do."
Campbell agreed with Yapp.
"If you buy a historic home, you have to be prepared to maintain it," Campbell said.
So far, Yapp has been involved in the restoration and rehabilitation of more than 160 historic properties. His favorite work among them is his brick Italianate house in Hannibal.
“It is absolutely an amazing structure,” Yapp said. It also serves as headquarters of the Belvedere School for Hands-on Preservation he launched in 2008. He set up the school to train artisans in the historic preservation trades.
"It's my mission to keep those artisan trades going," Yapp said. He also travels around the country to teach people who aren't familiar with these skills and to help their communities.
"I think it is such a great thing," said Carol Brown, an owner of a 1942 Columbia house. "It is so good for the community to teach people how to fix what they have instead of replacing it."
Brown said the windows in her old house are a big problem.
"Windows are just where I need to start in my house," she said. "I want to make it more energy-efficient."
Both Campbell and Brown plan to attend the next two sessions of this workshop. Friday's session will cover painting, and Saturday's will focus on window restoration and weatherization.
"Seeing the excitement in people’s eyes learning things that they didn’t know — to me, that is the most fun thing in the world,” Yapp said.
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