Troubled historical house in Jefferson City nears demolition deadline

Posted on 7 February 2018 at 7:55pm

JEFFERSON CITY - The future of a historical house on Lafayette Street in Jefferson City is still in question. The city and its historical preservation commission have been going head to head on whether to bring down the old home for nearly a year. And the date for destruction is almost here, set for March 15.

The house is over 100 years old and is in a section of the capital city built during the process of red-lining or a discriminatory practice where banks would not give loans to people based on their race.

Donna Deetz is a member of the Jefferson City Historical Preservation Commission, she said the property's rich history is worth saving.

"The area is a historically black area," Deetz said."Prior to the Urban Renewal process in the 1960s, and a lot of the folks that lived here were associated with Lincoln University."

The house has escaped destruction before. It had a scheduled demolition date in March of 2017. City council then pushed that date back into June, September and then again to November. 

In November, city council began the process to sell the property, along with several others, with the understanding that if the properties didn't sell by the March deadline, they would be demolished. 

The city purchased the property on Lafayette Street in 2009 and invested over $50,000 into it hoping to improve it. At one point, the city looked at turning the home into low income housing. But that fell through in 2012 when FEMA changed and remapped the city's floodplain. The house now sits on the edge of the floodplain in a "low risk zone", which means the city cannot put federal money into a property on a floodplain.

Deetz said the map needs to be redrawn, as it is inaccurate.

"When FEMA came in, as I understand their procedure, they did a fly-over, rather than going on the ground and gathering the facts of an area," Deetz said. "To that end, these houses on the new floodplain have never flooded."

The new plan, if the property doesn't sell, is to level it and create a green space. Lincoln University student Matthew Scott said he would welcome any change. 

"A green space would be nice here since it's a little destitute," Scott said. "I think it could really brighten things up here."

KOMU spoke with numerous neighbors to the property Wednesday and most agree with Deetz and want the city to save the historical property.