Historic Landmark Gets New Lease on Life
Musician John William Boone, who made his name in ragtime jazz, died in 1927, a few months after his final concert. Lucille Salerno, the former head of the J.W. Boone Foundation, said Columbia residents can be proud of this native son.
"It's the national significance that's empowering us to ask for these federal funds and save America's treasures," she said. "Without that, we wouldn't have the eligibility."
After Boone lived in the house, it became a funeral home. The building has been vacant since 2001 when renovations began. Now it's ready for the final stages of restoration, and local music historians look forward to the finished product. They expect the ragtime museum to bring a Harlem Renaissance flair to the Columbia music scene.
Boone's life influenced historian Jack Batterson to write a book about the blind musician.
"With Columbia being in between, I think it will attract people from St. Louis and Kansas City and also help tourism in Missouri and Columbia," said Batterson. "It could help companies and businesses."
Completion of the restoration depends on how soon the money is available. Salerno said that could happen in the next year.
"It's really, from my point of view, rather miraculous," she said. "So, it's a happy time."
Columbia will host a music festival in Boone's name June 4-6.