Located within two blocks of the State Capitol, the four residential properties located at 207-221 W. McCarty Street were constructed between 1892 and 1920 and are deemed National Register-eligible as a small historic district. These buildings are some of the few remaining historic residential resources remaining in Downtown Jefferson City as many such properties have been lost over the years due to the expansion needs of state government.
The properties include the 1911 Bassman House, a well-preserved Colonial Revival Style, 2 1/2 story residence with Ionic columns, turned porch balusters, slate roof, elegantly simple interior staircase with a rounded landing leading to a pair of French doors leading to the front porch roof, intact windows, brass hardware, and woodwork. The exterior boasts beautifully dressed stone which is believed to have been salvaged from the Thomas Price house, originally located one block away on West High Street, which was demolished prior to 1907 to make way for the Missouri Supreme Court Building. Recent information gathered indicates that the home was the residence of the Assistant Postmaster for Jefferson City.
The house at 211 W. McCarty is an early 20th century residence that is also largely intact and retains some elaborate interior architectural elements including a paneled staircase, pocket doors, mantels with original tiles and cast iron firebox inserts, and bay window with wood paneling in the dining room. Both this home and the Bassman house appear to be structurally sound and offer a wealth of space for office or residential use.
The houses at 215 and 221 W. McCarty Street have experienced more numerous alterations over the years. The original window openings at 215 W. McCarty have been blocked in with brick to accommodate smaller aluminum replacement windows. This home retains a decorative mantel with tile similar to its neighbor at 211 W. McCarty. The fourth home at 221 W. McCarty was substantially altered sometime during the 1920s. The stuccoed exterior, arched attic window, interior French doors, hardwood floors and trim on the main floor reflect the 1920s remodeling. However, two lower levels, below street grade, have time and details from the late Victorian period. Not included in the immediate demolition threat is the Art Deco style Turgin Apartment Building on the east corner of the block which is National Register-listed and has recently been rehabilitated using both Federal and State historic tax credits.
For a number of years Jefferson City has tried to promote development of a convention center. In the late 1970s, the City’s Housing Authority acquired 211, 215 and 221 W. McCarty as part of the Capitol West Urban Renewal Project, which resulted in construction of the Truman State Office Building and the James C. Kirkpatrick Office Building (housing the Secretary of State and the State Archives). Last year it seemed that the City had realized its efforts to build a convention center when a developer contracted with the City to redevelop the block after a local community task force had chosen this site over three other possible locations. Within a few months the City expected to ask voters to support a tax to facilitate the redevelopment. At the same time, the Bassman family was ready to sell its home and this property was ultimately acquired by the City in anticipation of the convention center’s construction. Almost overnight, however, the developer’s funding unraveled and plans for the convention center did not move forward.
Late last year, representatives from the City and the Housing Authority informed the Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission that all four houses were slated for demolition. In February, Commission representatives met with the Housing Authority to discuss preservation alternatives. This month applications for demolition permits were submitted by the City and the Housing Authority indicating that the houses could not be rehabilitated. Preservationists were given an opportunity to inspect the properties at the same time. Behind the homes is a gravel parking lot. Since no plans by either the City or the Housing Authority have announced to redevelop the block, local preservationists fear that the site will be developed solely for parking. Interested parties have expressed an interest in acquiring and rehabilitating the historic properties. One has even written a letter to the Mayor and the Housing Authority offering to purchase the property. Preservation advocates acknowledge that the buildings could be successfully rehabilitated for housing or offices. These uses could bring more life and vitality to Downtown as they are in easy walking distance to the Capitol. They would also help to screen an existing parking lot that does not contribute to Downtown’s beauty and vitality. National Register listing would allow the use of historic tax credits in the rehabilitation. The City and Housing Authority have yet to consider the option.
Update: The properties were included in the Missouri State Capitol Historic District (Boundary Increase 1) in 2002
Update: In April of 2007 the buildings were still at-risk. The Historic City of Jefferson had an active campaign to save the properties, including aiding the announcement of proposals. Read about it here in their April 2007 newsletter.
In September of 2007, HCJ announced that the Mayor of Jefferson City , John Landwehr, vetoed the city council decision to allow redevelopment of the property. It was listed as condemned and unfortunately demolished.
All four buildings have since been demolished.