Columbia Missouri Downtown Walking Tour
This walking tour connects a baker's dozen of historic train stations, commercial/ industrial/ educational/ religious structures, a historic home, a hotel, and an armory.
Constructed in 1909, the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad Depot is a good example of an early 20th-century train station. It was built by the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad and was one of two train stations in the city (the other was the Wabash Railroad Station). Notable features include the octagonal pavilion, terra-cotta, red brick, and arched windows. Currently, the building is home to Shiloh Bar & Grill. Its construction was a reflection of how important railroads were as a key economic driver in Columbia and the region. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
John W Boone, a nationally known musician and composer and one of Missouri's “Big Three,” is considered by many historians to have inspired the development of ragtime music through his adoption of the syncopated rhythms he saw in everyday life within African American communities. Boone's home, his only remaining asset at the time of his death, later served as the location of a funeral home. The property was in disrepair and in danger of being demolished in the late 1990s. Local residents and preservationists mobilized to save it with the help of city officials. The home was renovated and is currently owned by the City of Columbia. The home has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.
St. Paul A.M.E. Church is a historic African Methodist church whose congregation was founded c.1867. The church building was erected in 1892 and was designed combining Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
The Columbia National Guard Armory is an Art Deco styled structure that was constructed in 1938 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Dozens of armories were built in this era in the U.S. under this federal government program. the entire building is composed of reinforced, poured concrete. Unlike earlier federal armories built to standardized plans, the New Deal program encouraged the use of local architects to design armories for each community. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. In 1999, the National Guard moved out of the building and the entire Armory became a recreational facility. The building houses the city's Community Recreation Department and other programs.
Built in 1910, the former Wabash Railroad Station and Freight House is a historic train depot in Columbia, Missouri. Designed in the Tudor Revival style, the depot is now a bus station. The structure is listed on the National Register and is historically significant owing to its role in the city's growth in the early 20th century along with the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad Depot.
This historic Missouri building was constructed in 1927 and expanded in 1940. The building features a terra cotta facade that includes the name of Central Dairy which occupied the structure until 1959. Dot Sappington and Clyde Shepard began the dairy in 1920 and commissioned the Kansas City-based architectural firm of Shepard and Wiser to build this building for their dairy after they outgrew two previous rented buildings. The company produced and distributed ice cream from this location with a fleet of trucks and deliverymen. Central Dairy was the largest dairy in the region and the business was sold in 1959 to Meadow Gold Dairy. Two years later, Downtown Appliance acquired the building.
Senior Hall was constructed in 1857 and was home to the only dormitory on the Columbia Baptist Female College campus. The all-female college was established in 1833 as Columbia Female Academy, an establishment of learning that grew to become Stephens College. Today, the college is the second oldest continuously-operating women's college in the United States. Senior Hall is part of the campus's National Historic District.
Now home to the Ragtag Cinema movie theater, the former Coca-Cola Bottling Company Building was built in 1935 by owner Ed Roberson. It was home to the Columbia Coca-Cola Bottling Company (a local franchise of the Coca-Cola Company), which seems to have been founded around 1927. The company was one of a number of soft drink bottling businesses in the downtown area, the first of which was established as early as 1877. The architecture of the building—Colonial Revival—is interesting in that it resembles a residential structure. It was designed this way because at the time it was built the neighborhood was still in part residential. The bottling company operated until 1966 and the cinema opened in the building in 2008.
Built in 1930, the Missouri United Methodist Church is a fine example of Late Gothic Revival architecture. Designed by John A. Epple, it features high arches, crenelated battlements, and is constructed with stone—all of which give it a robust appearance. It also features beautiful stained glass windows, which were created in St. Louis. The windows on the north side depicts the Old Testament and the south side depicts the New Testament. On the west wall, the windows depict important figures of Methodist history. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Constructed in 1911, the Virginia Building opened at a time when the city of Columbia was in the midst of a population boom. The building was home to the Columbia Commercial Club, the precursor to the Chamber of Commerce As the city grew, its downtown center transitioned from one dominated by homes and small shops to a bustling commercial district. In 1928, Montgomery Ward moved into this building and was located here until the 1960s. The decision of the retailer to move out of the building reflects the growth of when suburban malls. In recent years, downtown neighborhoods are once again the center of commerce and the Virginia Building is home to retail and office space.
This two-story brick building was constructed in 1892 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The Ballenger Building is a two-part commercial block with brick walls and terra cotta ornamentation. The building was built originally to house G. F. Troxell's furniture store. In 1904, a rear extension of the building provided more space. Major remodeling took place in 1928; this is when a new façade was added, including the red brick parapet wall slightly taller than the original façade, and the terra cotta ornamentation. The storefront was modified again in the 1980s when remodeling the building to house a restaurant; the stuccoed walls had large groups of casement windows. The storefront was rebuilt in 2003-2004 to a more historically appropriate design.
Presently home to Commerce Bank, this was the site of the Haden Opera House from 1878 to its destruction by fire in 1901. That building was replaced by the Haden Building which included retail space and apartments. That building was also destroyed by fire in 1921 and replaced by the current structure which was home to the Boone County Trust Company and distinguished by its white terra cotta. Commerce bank acquired the company in 2006 and after remodeling the building's interior, opened the current downtown Columbia branch in 2010.
Constructed in 1928, this historic hotel became the first skyscraper between St. Louis and Kansas City. This was the leading hotel of the city and boasted luxurious and state-of-the-art features such as an ice water cooling system. The hotel closed in the 1980s and the building was converted to retirement condos and operated as the Kensington for many years, but retained the original "Tiger" sign on the building's roof. This sign, like the building itself, has long been one of the leading landmarks in Columbia and was restored in 2004. The building underwent an extensive renovation under new ownership in 2011 and once again serves as the leading downtown hotel on the road between Missouri's two largest cities.