Donation accelerates slow project

Community members energize renovation of historic drugstore.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:56 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

The restoration of the historic Heibel-March drugstore should finally start in early December.

Columbia Mid-City Lumber, a lumber and building materials provider, announced Monday that it donated $2,000 worth — more than 1,000 feet — of framing joists and extra-thick plywood to the group working to renovate the property on the corner of Range Line Street and Wilkes Boulevard.

“It seemed like a good charity,” said Kevin Pickett, Mid-City Lumber manager. “I have known this building for at least 25 years, and when I heard that people were trying to renovate it, it sounded like a great idea.”

The old Heibel-March drugstore, also known as “The Corner,” was built in 1910, making it one of the oldest pieces of architecture in downtown Columbia. Six years ago, neighbors of the building organized themselves to prevent its demolition, which the city of Columbia was threatening because it wasn’t being used. Neighborhood residents proposed, under the umbrella of Central Missouri Community Action, that they could renovate the building and convert it into the Field Community Resource Center. The city agreed to sell the building to CMCA for $10 and to lease the land it sits on, which is part of Field Park.

On Oct. 15, the City Council granted the group another six years to complete the renovation. The group had struggled with internal restructuring and fundraising, problems that impeded the renovation’s progress. Since he took the lead of the project about 13 months ago, Dan Cullimore, who is now project manager, has been working to get the project moving, improve fundraising and increase publicity. So far, the most significant donations that have been made are building materials and labor, including architectural blueprints and the repair of a broken window, Cullimore said.

YouthBuild, a national program that teaches young people construction skills and prepares them to earn GED diplomas, is negotiating with CMCA to donate its members’ help. The youths will use Mid-City Lumber’s donated materials to replace portions of the roof in December.

In August, YouthBuild members removed the building’s damaged plaster ceiling and old plumbing and electrical fixtures.

“We want to help with this community project, and we are glad to contribute to the renovation of the Corner,” said Skip Jenkins, a housing director at Job Point, an employment center that works with the YouthBuild program. “This work will be one of the first construction jobs for our new class.”

Cullimore said he expects to see the work completed by Christmas and that he is also negotiating donations for heating, insulation and air conditioning installation.

Pickett said he was glad to help with what “will be a good addition to the neighborhood.”

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