Maplewood House Renovation may cause closure for tours

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COLUMBIA — The historic city-owned Maplewood House will be closed during renovation for the next few months.

The house, which is almost 140 years old, is managed by the Boone County Historical Society.

“There’s $32,000 in grants and $150,000 in city money that has been used in this spring and summer to make sure that the home is still viable fundamentally for another 50 to 100 years.” said The Boone County Historical Society's executive director Chris Campbell.

Campbell said the society began a process of documenting needed renovations two years ago, but it received no funding at that time.

“There were those in the city who felt like this was not urgently needed. And it wasn’t until I gave the city manager a tour of them home about a year ago and let them see for themselves the structure issues and other issues that were involved,” Campbell said. 

He said Mike Matthes realized there was money set aside for the projects like Maplewood House, so there wouldn’t be much of an increase on the budget.

“Spending the money will prevent having to spending a lot more money later. Because when the old house starts falling apart, the cost for repairing them just keep going up. The longer you wait, the worse it gets,” Campbell said. 

Issues include foundation repairs, attic ventilation, a rotted sub-floor, the heat and air conditioning system and security system. 

“Putting in modern alarm systems that could be operated by Wi-Fi and control by me and my desk 200 yards away are critical, because when we are not giving the tour of the house, no one’s there," Campbell said. "If the fire ever to start or flood, it’s important to know that right away. Currently, there are no immediately responsive systems in that house to able to tell us that.” 

Columbia resident Debbie Sheals, who is an architectural historian, said the city should pay attention to “character-defining features.”

“You wouldn’t want to put vinyl sliding in that house to keep the water out. Water is an issue, but so is the character of the house,” Sheals said.

Campbell the city, as an entity, could be more involved in how and when historic buildings are either updated or lost to development

“I wouldn’t qualified it as a poor job, but maybe the city could be doing better if allowing for more education, exploration and time for preservationists and historians to advise the city and its representatives what buildings have definite historic value and perhaps should be kept,” Campbell said.

He said the renovation is scheduled to be finished by September 14.