Site shows buildings’ history

‘MU in Brick and Mortar’ offers digital photos, documents
Monday, April 17, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:40 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The “MU in Brick and Mortar” Web site offers an opportunity to see how buildings on campus have changed since 1892. From older buildings — such as Switzler Hall, constructed in 1871 — to newer ones — such as the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building, built in 1996 — the site features photographs and information about 97 buildings on campus.

The history of each building is documented through photographs, artists’ sketches, blueprints, newspaper clippings and information about the building’s design date, construction date, architectural consultant, namesake and additions.

The Web site was the initiative of the space planning and management department at MU, but several other departments collaborated on the project.

Scott Shader, director of the space planning department, said he and his team were inspired to do the project based on a book about the history of buildings on campus. Shader said there had been a lot of research on campus history, but nothing was digitized.

“We decided to be pioneers and take that project on,” he said.

The project was funded by two Library Science and Technology Act grants from the Missouri State Library, in 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. The grants were awarded to the space planning department in collaboration with the MU main library.

Shader said the department hired graduate students and full-time temporary employees to work on the project. The first part of the project was collecting the information, and the second was selecting and digitizing it.

Renee Maxwell was involved in archives research as a full-time temp. She went through folders for each building and selected any documents she thought were relevant.

“I tried to pick them based on what I thought really painted a picture of what it was like to be on campus at that time and what the building was like back then,” Maxwell said.

The timing of the job was right for her personally.

“I was new to Columbia at that time, so it was a really cool way for me to get acquainted with local history,” she said.

Eric Gater worked on the second part of the project while he pursued a master’s degree in library science at MU. Both he and Maxwell now work full time for the space planning department.

Gater did Web design and photo editing. He said project staffers tried to make the format of the photographs uniform for all the buildings.

“I took a lot of Web programming classes for electives, so it was interesting to get to use that,” he said.

An online counter says the site has received more than 13,000 visitors so far.

Shader said he would like to expand the project campuswide and also look at the land-use history of the campus.

“I would like to look at how the campus expanded landwise to accommodate its growth,” he said.

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