COLUMBIA — Julie Ganey couldn't always get a room at The Gathering Place Bed & Breakfast, but she loved staying there when she could. Ganey and her husband Richard, both MU alumni, would stay there when they came to Columbia to visit their son Phillip, who graduated from MU in May.
Unfortunately, her most recent visit to The Gathering Place during a football weekend might have been one of her last chances.
After over 20 years of business, The Gathering Place will close in December. The bed-and-breakfast, located on College Avenue across from MU's campus, is one of several programs facing the ax in the wake of substantial budget cuts across campus.
The Gathering Place has operated as a B&B since 1996. It was built in 1906 by Cora Davenport, and, over the years, was a fraternity house for Lambda Chi Alpha, Alpha Gamma Rho, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Tau Gamma, according to its official website.
Ganey appreciated the bed-and-breakfast's proximity to campus. She said she liked that she and her husband could park there and walk to campus and downtown events.
The Gathering Place was meant to provide hospitality management students with "a firsthand look at managing a hotel, serving customer needs and creating an upscale ambiance," according to the hotel's website.
Ganey praised the student employees who served her and her husband during their stays.
"They were very, very helpful and professional," she said.
In the 40-page budget inventory released last week, the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, which oversees the hospitality program, justified the closing by saying The Gathering Place did not meet educational expectations.
"We had hoped the B&B would provide experiential learning for our hospitality students, including managerial and operational experience," said MU spokesman Christian Basi in an email Tuesday. "Unfortunately, this was not the case as the students’ responsibilities were primarily restricted to breakfast service and room refreshing duties."
MU expects to save approximately $150,000 annually by closing the bed-and-breakfast, said Basi. He said despite the loss of The Gathering Place, the hospitality program will continue.
Ganey said The Gathering Place's closing is unfortunate due to Columbia's shrinking number of bed-and-breakfast establishments. "It's a whole option that won't be available," she said.
The Gathering Place has been owned by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Foundation since 2008. The foundation leases the building to MU and will have the final say in what will happen to the building when the bed-and-breakfast closes.
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