Chronicling the Renaissance of North Central, the Heart of Columbia

-- A Priceless Masterpiece at Douglass High
-- Largest Ever Preservation Crowd Salutes Columbia History
-- City Skeds Demolition for Once Hopeful Home
-- Columbia Schools: From Laptop Flop to Smith Shoe Shop
-- Rumor Has It: Yarco Buys Lyons in Tiger Town; Mr. Livingston, We
Presume; For Sale: Missouri Manor
-- A Local Treasure Sends Her Regards

1) For Black History Month, A Priceless Masterpiece at Douglass High

Montgomery, Alabama attorney Fred Gray, Sr. has long championed civil
rights. When authorities arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to give up
her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white person, Gray was her

When 26-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. led a boycott of those same
buses and faced legal action, 25-year-old Gray was the lawyer at his

For 623 men -- unwitting experimental subjects for forty years -- Fred
Gray won more than $9 million when he settled claims surrounding the
U.S. government's infamous "Tuskegee syphilis experiment."

But Gray has also long championed an African-American icon of a
different sort -- a man who almost single-handedly brought black
history to museums, schools, and public institutions around the
nation -- sculptor Isaac Scott Hathaway.

Hathaway left a valuable, significant -- and before now --
undiscovered part of his artistic vision at Douglass High School
in Columbia, Missouri: a 1918 bust of the hero that first inspired
abolitionist and newspaper editor Frederick Douglass.

"The bust at Douglass High School is one of those rare finds that sets
a community apart," said VSA Arts Missouri executive director Lisa
Kemper in Columbia.

Read More from the Columbia Missourian:

2) Largest Ever Preservation Crowd Salutes Columbia History

Thursday, February 8th saw a standing room only crowd saluting
Columbia's Most Notable Historic Properties at the Tiger Hotel

North Central Columbia had four honorees this year: Kim Parker's stone
manse on Alton; Rob Alongi's old time store on Lyons; St. Francis
House; and Field Elementary School.

Notable among the notables: City Manager Bill Watkins; Mayor Pro Tem
Jim Loveless; former state rep Tim Harlan and his wife Linda; Her
Honor, Judge Debra Daniels; architect and preservation commission
chair Brian Pape; former Columbia Mayor Clyde Wilson and his wife
Betty; Field Elementary principals Carol Garman and Troy Hogg; CPS
elementary education superintendent Jack Jensen; and of course, all of
our 2007 Notable Historic Property honorees!

City staff is to be mucho congratulato'd for filming a brief show
about the properties that is now playing on CAT TV. The score was
well done; the editing excellent; and the overall presentation
exceedingly professional!

"The Preservation Commission does very important work!" said city
manager Bill Watkins.

Thanks to Bill, Jim and their staff for helping us show it off in such
grand style!

3) City Skeds Demolition for Once Hopeful Home

Neighborhood Response Team leader Bill Cantin tells the Unconventional
Wisdom (that's us) that 411 North 5th Street is scheduled for
demolition in early March.

The city purchased the property from a bank -- and itself (city loans
liened the home) -- after vandals destroyed the house. It was the
subject of a Tony Messenger profile (the "511" address is a typo):

Saga of destroyed residence holds hope for future owners

The land is due to become part of Douglass Park.

4) Columbia Schools: From Laptop Flop to Smith Shoe Shop

For about the cost of the controversial No Board Member Left Behind
paperless meeting plan, Columbia Public Schools (CPS) bought the
old Smith Shoe Repair Shop at 601 & 603 Hickman. Reports say the
district paid just $35,000.00 for the buildings, which will be razed
to make way for more parking at Jefferson Junior High School.

Trib stories have the paperless plan coming in at "roughly $33,000,"
complete with requisite consultants and new laptop computers all
around. The plan flopped after hackles flared over spending
priorities that included roofs leaking water -- on students, not

In buying the shoe shop, our figures suggest CPS could painlessly
reverse the laptop flop. The county appraiser has the properties
appraised for a combined total of $74,400.00. In doing the deal for $39,400 less
than the county appraisal, the district seems to have saved more than
enough to equip its board with laptop computers.

We're glad the old shoe shop is coming down. Though it was a little
slice of history, it's best days were long behind it and the property
is ramshackle and dangerous.

Related Links: Trib story about the Smith Shoe Shop

5) Rumor Has It...

Rumor has it that Kansas City based low-income housing developer Yarco
is buying pricey options on property along Lyons Street, abutting Park
Avenue public housing. Though Yarco has a good rep, the idea of more
segregated low income housing does not thrill many North Central
residents. Park Avenue is tentatively slated for redevelopment
that should include reducing the housing area's physical and social
isolation. As 21st century public housing goes, the Park Avenue
model is outdated and worn. What the Yarco plan portends is unclear.

A Tribune classified ad offering property for a few hundred K on
Locust Street near downtown is attached to Jon Livingston's Affordable
Home Sales' phone number. Said property was the subject of this
recent article on a downtown development moratorium:
One wonders: is eminent domain imminent, prompting Livingston to sell
before he's taken?

Last I heard, historic Missouri Manor was skedded to become a private
club, compliments of local developer John Peters. It's for sale now: $1.3
million; or for lease: $10K per month. Interested parties can contact
Jack Maher at Maly Commercial Real Estate.

6) A local treasure sends her regards

Please keep the great Renaissance Chronicle coming!
-- Betty Cook Rottmann, Columbia

Happy Valentines Day!

-- Mike Martin and the
The Unconventional Wisdom

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