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‘The Monastery’ facing demolition

Public meeting set on Lafayette interchange

A piece of the Harlem Renaissance sits where the Lafayette Street interchange with U.S. 50 is slated to go by winter 2016.

Jefferson City’s Historic Preservation Commission encouraged members to attend the public information meeting held by the Missouri Department of Transportation 4-7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Immaculate Conception Church, where the demolition and construction project will be discussed.

In the 1930s, 504 Lafayette St. received the name “Monastery” from two young and single authors, who were professors at Lincoln University. And residents Cecil Blue and Lorenzo Greene called themselves “The Color Boys,” said historian Gary Kremer.

The National Register of Historic Places-eligible home became an off-campus site for faculty-student interaction, Kremer said.

“All-night discussions about President Roosevelt’s New Deal, international communism, race relations and the growing menaces in Germany and Japan became common,” he said.

The Monastery developed a reputation among black intellectuals, many who were influenced to attend Lincoln because it was near that home.

“No person of any note ever came to Lincoln without coming to the ‘Monastery,’” Greene had said.

Other historical resources on the Eastside will be impacted from the development, which will include that addition of interchanges along Whitton Expressway and the replacement of two bridges.

Also at its meeting Tuesday, the commission approved a letter to Doug Nelson, Office of Administration commissioner, inviting the state agency currently responsible for the Missouri State Penitentiary to attend the commission’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in the large conference room at city hall.

The commission included a list of eight questions and issues related to the caretaking of the site’s historic district.

“It seems to me, we’re the one to inject some kind of urgency,” said Chairman Ed Meyer.

Weather has taken its toll on the buildings, which have sat vacant for nearly 10 years. The commission hopes to help in the stabilization of those historic assets before neglect demolishes them.

In other business, the commission:

• Learned its ordinance change recommendation, regarding the requirement of interior photos with demolition application, is on the city public works agenda for Sept. 19 and if approved they will go before the City Council on Oct. 7.

• Asked Commissioner Doug Record to contact those involved with the proposed relocation of the Spanish-American War Memorial, currently in the 2500 block of Missouri Boulevard, and provide more information at the October meeting.

• Approved a letter of recommendation for Jayme Abbott to apply for a State Historic Preservation Office grant of $2,500 to attend the biannual National Preservation Commission Forum in July 2014.

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