A banner promoting the State Historical Society of Missouri's grand opening stands along Elm St.

A banner promoting the State Historical Society of Missouri's grand opening stands along Elm St. next to the society's new building Friday in downtown Columbia. Previously, the society was housed within Ellis Library. 

The State Historical Society of Missouri’s headquarters, which have been in MU’s Ellis Library for more than 100 years, will celebrate the opening of the Center for Missouri Studies at 605 Elm St. next week.

A grand opening and dedication will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Staff, members and trustees of the society, public officials, MU representatives and invited guests will be on hand, and the public is invited to tour the building after the ceremony, according to a Friday news release from the society.

Boxes sit in an office space in the new State Historical Society of Missouri building

Boxes sit in an office space in the new State Historical Society of Missouri building Friday in downtown Columbia. About one month ago, crews began moving all the art, newspapers and other historic records into the new location. 

Society Executive Director Gary Kremer said the date of the grand opening is special.

“August 10, 1821, is the official day of Missouri’s statehood,” Kremer wrote in the release. “198 years later, we begin a new chapter in understanding the state’s past with an impressive and dynamic building for collecting, preserving and publishing materials that help us learn about the history of Missouri and its region.”

The historical society was founded in 1898 by the Missouri Press Association and designated a trustee of the state in 1899. It has been collecting, preserving, publishing, exhibiting and making available material related to all aspects and periods of Missouri history since then.

Its library and manuscript collections would stretch the equivalent of 74 football fields if they were lined up in a row, the news release said.

The new 76,700-square-foot building provides nearly 4,900 more square feet of space than Ellis Library. The extra room will accommodate a larger research center and art galleries, as well as classrooms, a bookstore and an auditorium for public programs and events.

Construction workers build the parking lot around the back of the State Historical Society of Missouri's new building

Construction workers build the parking lot around the back of the State Historical Society of Missouri’s new building on Friday in downtown Columbia. The building is set to have its grand opening on Aug. 10.

A $35 million state bond issue and personal donations financed the new building, which took two years to finish. River City Construction of Ashland did the construction, using Missouri-quarried stone for the exterior and oak from Poplar Bluff for much of the interior.

A construction worker walks around on what will be the parking lot

A construction worker walks around on what will be the parking lot for the State Historical Society of Missouri's new building Friday in downtown Columbia. Ground was broken for the building project in April 2017. 

Gould Evans of Kansas City is the architecture firm that carried out the project. The design is intended to reflect both Missouri’s historic and geographic importance as the place where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers meet.

“This symbolic connection of our waterways and how we would like to encourage inquiry into our past led to a building where the spaces flow into each other and bring people with different interests together,” Kremer said.

Some final construction details and landscaping were still underway Friday. Workers are paving the parking lot on the north side of the building, and landscaping work was nearly finished around the main entrance on the south side. An MU landscaping crew was finishing plantings of ornamental grasses and flowers and laying soaker hoses to help them get established.

On the east side of the building along Seventh Street, crews were cleaning up scattered scaffolding and other construction equipment. All the work was scheduled to be done by Tuesday, but some of the crew members thought the work might stretch all the way to the following Saturday, the day of the dedication.

With the help of a crane, workers haul materials to finish up the roof

With the help of a crane, workers haul materials to finish up the roof of the State Historical Society of Missouri’s new building Fsriday in downtown Columbia.

  • General reporter, summer 2019 Studying international writing Reach me at ijcmt@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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