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City and University Support New Site for State Historical Society

March 30, 2009

Story Contact:  Mary Jo Banken, 573-882-6212,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton and Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins today announced that MU and the City of Columbia will work together to provide an appropriate site for the future location of the State Historical Society of Missouri that would be beneficial to all three parties, to those they serve and to the community in general. The society currently is located in cramped quarters in MU’s Ellis Library.

In accordance with the university’s master plan vision to enhance the northern boundary of the campus, and the city’s cooperation in that effort that includes consultation services from Sasaki Associates, MU has offered to make a site available for construction of the proposed State Historical Society building. The Sasaki study identified a range of opportunity sites along Elm Street suitable for cultural, residential, commercial and other improvements.

The site is a square block between Sixth and Seventh Streets, bounded by Elm Street on the south and Locust Street on the north. It currently serves as employee/visitor parking for the Heinkel Building, which houses several university administrative functions; MU would retain ownership of the property.

The city would support this arrangement by making a piece of its property available to the university in an adjacent area located on the east side of Fifth Street between Locust and Cherry Streets. This area currently serves as a parking lot and would be available to employees displaced from parking around the Heinkel Building.

“We strongly believe that the State Historical Society is an enormous asset for Columbia and the university,” Deaton said. “We have been working for some time with the city to leverage our mutual resources into a new model for town/gown relationships and to identify short-term and long-term opportunities that would benefit our long-standing partnership. Working together to make a site available to the society for a facility that will adequately serve its needs benefits all involved.”

Watkins said that the proposal is a very workable option for the society’s planned expansion. “The society had seriously considered the block immediately to the west of this alternative site because, once the existing property was acquired, there would be enough space to build the type of facility it visualized,” he said. “But this truly generous offer from the university will let the Historical Society go forward with an adjusted plan. I am excited about this project.”

The City Council will discuss this topic during its open, public dinner session at 5:45 p.m. today in the Fourth Floor Conference Room, Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway.

The State Historical Society of Missouri was founded in 1898 by the Missouri Press Association and has been a trustee of the state since 1899. It describes its role as “the preeminent research facility for the study of the Show Me State’s heritage and a leader in programming designed to share that heritage with the public.”