Central Missouri has been at the crossroads throughout American history. The region’s past, including the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Civil War era and the building of the Bagnell Dam, has been preserved through many of the area’s off-site venues.
The Boone County Historical Society operates Walters Boone County Museum along with the Montminy Art Gallery, the Maplewood House and the Village at Boone Junction, all in Columbia’s Nifong Park.
The Walters Boone County Museum houses artifacts and records of the people of Boone County in two exhibit halls and display rooms. There is also 10,000 square feet of vaults and storage space for the collections and preservation of pieces of historical significance to the region. The Maplewood House was built in 1877 for a Boone County pioneer family, and the 430-acre farm originally included a pond and additional buildings for servants, a carriage house and a barn. In 1970, the City of Columbia purchased the land, which is now historic Nifong Park.
Groups can book the different venues, including the 4,000-square-foot Montminy Art Gallery, which features rotating exhibits. There is a conference room equipped with a board table and chairs, the first floor of the Maplewood home, and for outdoor events, a covered veranda and gazebo offer views of the park.
In the late 1800s John Lange Jr., built a two-story Victorian house in Columbia that was then home to musician John W. “Blind” Boone. Boone is known for his work as a composer and concert pianist blending African-American folk with European classical music, influencing ragtime, jazz and boogie-woogie, all while facing adversities such as blindness and poverty.
Originally the home was small and featured wooden weatherboarding and a two-story front porch. Over the years, the home was upgraded and additions were made, changing the original Victorian appearance, but the interior, with original woodwork, fireplace and curved staircase, was kept intact. In 1996, the home was restored as a remembrance of Boone, his works and importance to the community.
Planners can arrange for group tours of the home or host receptions in the historic home.
The Millbottom, once a power plant, was restored and renovated into an event center. The building dates to the early 1900s when it operated as a gas plant for Ameren and as a power plant for both the Missouri Power and Light Company, and before that for Jefferson City Light, Heat and Power Company.
“The building is named after the area in which it was originally located, the Mill Bottom,” said Margaret Oberkrom, assistant manager of The Millbottom. “The area got this name because it was the area in the river bottom where farmers would bring their grain from all over to be milled.”
Today, the event center has an indoor capacity of 300 people with the ability to expand to 1,200 people for an indoor/outdoor event. The main room, that once held the plant’s boilers, is a 4,700-square-foot space with large arched windows and exposed steel beams that are original to the building. The venue also features a caterer’s kitchen with commercial equipment, an indoor/outdoor bar and a mezzanine level that can also be used for functions.