COLUMBIA — Over the past 97 years, the building on the corner of Range Line Street and Wilkes Boulevard has served as a grocery store, a pharmacy and an auto parts store. This Saturday, the north side of the Heibel-March building will get a makeover in the form of a mural painted by residents during the “Hullabaloo for Art.”
Peter Byger, a member of the Corner Action Committee, which is trying to make that building a resource center for the north-central neighborhood, said the mural is the culmination of “Voices from the Corner,” an arts literacy project. Students from nearby Field Elementary School and their families conducted oral interviews with people about their memories of what they call “the Corner” and then researched other murals for inspiration.
Residents can come by on Saturday and participate in the painting of the mural, designed by Gennie Pfannenstiel of Columbia. The work will depict some of the Corner’s most memorable features, such as a barrel in the grocery store filled with peanut butter that patrons would ladle out themselves.
Byger said the event is “the metaphor for what it’s all about — people coming together, sharing, caring and interacting.”
The Corner Project, which is under the auspices of Central Missouri Community Action, received a grant from Boone Electric Community Trust for supplies for the mural. The project has had a challenging journey in the six years since the city leased the building to the CMCA. Byger said this event will serve as the “spiritual beginning of the fundraising campaign.” The group would like to be able to get into the space — it’s empty right now — but the initial cost is daunting.
“If we can get $150,000 and get occupancy, we can start doing things,” Byger said. “The potential, the hope is not diminished at all, but the frustration is that people can’t envision the potential.”
The 2,600-square-feet space would house computers, a large multipurpose room for meetings and art exhibitions and two small meeting rooms. Byger said the Corner would work closely with Field Elementary and would also work with the North-Central Neighborhood Association to serve its needs. He hopes to move into the space in spring or summer of 2008.
“The whole project is really an incredible effort by a number of people in the neighborhood to preserve the building and provide a gathering place for arts, education, recreation and civic experiences for all ages,” Byger said.
Byger hopes the Hullabaloo will bring a lot of people to the Corner and draw attention to what he hopes will be the final stretch of fundraising.
“It would be a miracle, after six years of plugging away, running into so many speed bumps and discouragements” to get moved in, Byger said. “This neighborhood wants to have a renaissance, and we want to be a part of that. If it happens, it’ll be a miracle of Columbia.”