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Anne Green steers HCJ into storm-damaged future

Anne Green steers HCJ into storm-damaged future

July 8th, 2019 by Bob Watson in Local News

Anne Clouse Green, executive director of Historic City of Jefferson (HCJ), poses on East Capitol Avenue, the site of much discussion on rebuilding after May's tornado.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

Anne Clouse Green started a new job Sept. 1 as the Historic City of Jefferson's executive director and their first full-time paid staff person.

"They had been a volunteer organization for, already, 35 years," Green said last week. "And that, I think, is remarkable in and of itself — that for 35 years they've been able to sustain themselves just on people volunteering their own time and efforts advocating for the preservation of historic buildings."

Then on May 23 — the morning after an EF-3 tornado raced through Jefferson City and damaged or demolished many homes and buildings along a 3-mile stretch — Green met with HCJ officials and "we started talking about ways that HCJ could help the community, because what we saw was all these different groups and individuals just coming together in the community, and we wanted to do something."

Only 8 months into her new job, Green said, "My total job perspective had, essentially, shifted."

She noted the HCJ already had a number of programs it was working on, including an oral history program to get information from older area residents, a landmark book (with the first edition coming out in August) focused on the "Landmark" properties program, and an educational series on historic preservation.

Among the decisions they made that morning after the storm, Green said, HCJ's leaders worked with the City Council to reduce the cost of permits needed to rebuild damaged homes to $25 — and then HCJ said it would cover that cost for all people needing permits.

Green said HCJ also is going to pay "for two structural analyses of two buildings on Capitol Avenue that insurance is not going to cover a structural analysis of — and it's our goal that, once these structural analyses are done (this) week, we'll be able to tell if the buildings still are viable."

If it can be saved, the owner of one of those buildings will spend the money needed for restoration.

And if the other owner decides against restoration work for a building that can be saved, Green said, "We have a list of people who are ready to step up and save that building.

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"Our goal is to make sure that, instead of just looking at demolition as an option for some of these buildings, people are taking the extra step to do these structural analyses and put some heavy thought into it."

Money for these projects comes from HCJ's $25 a year, per member, fee — and from money raised around the country through social media, as a response to the storm and its damage.

Green acknowledged some buildings can't be salvaged, like the Dallmeyer Building on the southeast corner of East Capitol Avenue and Marshall Street.

Currently owned by the Burkhead Company, Green said, Frank Burkhead — who also serves on the HCJ Foundation Board — "is absolutely devastated by what has happened to that building."

Jefferson City government's late-1970s decision to demolish the Old Jail — which stood on the corner of East McCarty and Monroe streets, in front of where the current police station sits — was a catalyst for creating the HCJ organization, she said.

"Old places matter," Green tells people all the time. "They've got a soul.

"They've got a history to them — and, instead of looking at something that's been run down, we need to start looking at them as something that's beneficial to our community."

Additionally, she noted: "History is an integral part of our community, and we need to work to preserve it because that's really one of the things that makes Jefferson City unique."

Restoring older buildings "is a much greener option for the community" than tearing them down and replacing them with more modern construction, she said.

"These materials are, actually, structurally pretty solid," Green added. "If you look at wood from 100 years ago, that's been used in these old houses, it's a much better quality of wood than is used in houses today.

"Trees are grown at a much quicker and different rate than the wood from 100 years ago."

And that quality construction may have helped save some of the historic buildings along East High Street and East Capitol Avenue from more serious damage from the May 22 tornado — including heavy damage to the old "Tweedie" building, which HCJ purchased at the end of February to be its new headquarters, and which it currently can't use.

"If that storm had hit a newer community, a community that was built over the last 10 years, it's my opinion the entire community would have been wiped out," Green said.

Growth in the organization's membership also may help.

"Slowly, over time, they've gotten more and more members," Green said. "We've had over 50 new members join us this year — so, now we're around 350 members."

And publicity after the storm has resulted in some new memberships from other parts of the state, and nation, she said.

Green wasn't looking to head a local nonprofit, when she graduated from William Woods University in 2001.

The Licking, Missouri, native majored in marketing and French, and she headed off from Fulton to St. Louis, then to a medical sales job in Houston, Texas.

"In 2006, I decided I wanted to get into lobbying, and I looked at the environment both in Texas and in Missouri, and decided I wanted to come back to my home state," Green explained. "I thought the politics here were a little more interesting than in Texas — there was a lot more back-and-forth between the two parties, I think (in Missouri)."

With Penman and Winton Consulting, she helped represent large clients, like Barnes-Jewish hospitals, but "a big portion of their business was, actually, nonprofits, as well as association management."

After her daughter was born in 2012, Green wanted to spend more time with family, so she joined the March of Dimes in 2013 as executive director, eventually responsible for all of the state — except for Kansas City and St. Louis.

After Anne and Jake Green decided Jefferson City should be the hometown they raised their family in, she accepted the HCJ director's job last year.

"We like the sense of community that Jefferson City has, compared with other towns that we considered," Anne said.

What does she think HCJ will look like in 25 years, when the storm is more of a bad memory than a current reality?

"We are definitely going to lose some buildings that have been here from the 1800s," Green said. "The Capitol Avenue that my children grow up with will not look like the Capitol Avenue of two months ago.

"But what I think we can do is work to preserve the buildings we still have here, for the future. Historic buildings are a resource — they're irreparable, we just can't go back and make them again.

"It's a resource for our community that, each one that we lose, we can't regain."

Working to help people with storm-damaged property isn't a detour for HCJ's work, Green said.

"It's just another layer to what our organization is doing," she explained.