Smaller cities that are home to a college or university enjoy distinct advantages. It soon has a well educated population that creates businesses that promote arts and crafts and cultural activities centered around that particular school of learning. Also its students as they graduate spread word of the worth of the community far and wide that has been their second home for four years. And some even remain or return to invent interesting ways to build future careers.
This is also true for its sports teams in today's America. The name of the home city of a successful college team is soon spread far and wide. All this is certainly true for Columbia, Missouri. It has been the home of the University of Missouri since 1839, the first such school west of the Mississippi. It now has an enrollment of 35,000 students and this in itself creates innumerable opportunities for business and further civic advances. This Writer recently spent two days exploring Columbia as a wonderful example of what middle America is truly like. Needless to say it presents vast differences from Southern California.
Our tour of the University included the reknown School of Journalism, of particular interest to us, which was established in 1908, the first such school in the nation. Keith Politte, manager of the Technology Testing Center at the Donald Reynolds Journalism Institute showed us its new center filled with all the best and latest in communication electronics. Our comment was that it bore no resemblance to our journalism classes so long ago.
Pete Millier is director of Landscape Services and the Mizzou Botanic Garden at the University and he was our guide as we toured the campus with some of its brick buildings dating back a century. The campus is truly spacious and the landscaping showing wonderful planning and care.
An afternoon thunderstorm moved us into the Ragtag Cinema. Since 1985 Ragtag has been providing the people of Columbia with independent films and many documentaries as well. It has two showrooms, the largest seating one hundred thirty five in comfort. Most of the films are selected for target audiences.
Also here there is a film festival each year. Tracy Lane, director, was our hostess and provided our refuge during the thunderstorm. We also looked in on the Wabash Railroad Station made elegantly of Boone County limestone which served the City for one hundred years and is now the local bus terminal. Adjacent is the recently formed Arts district. Here abandoned warehouses of the Wabash Railroad have been converted into art galleries, artist studios, gift and antique shops
If you are about to learn about a City's cultural heritage and pursuits what better place to enjoy breakfast than at an art gallery. This is exactly what took place for our group of writers when hosted at the Perlow-Stevens Gallery. We met four women who have played major roles in development of this center including Carrie Gartner, director of the district; Lisa Bartlett of Artlandish Gallery; Jennifer Perlow; and Mary Kroening. We were seated with Mary Kroening who has duel roles, her Hidden treasures Botanical Tours as well as owner of Orr Street Studios which provides studios for local artists and exhibition space for their works. We then visited Mary's Orr Street Studios and were much taken with the landscape paintings of Gloria Gaus who has a studio there. Another local artist whose work we admired was Marilyn Cummins who works with both watercolors and oils. The City of Columbia has given the arts a significant boost with its Office of Cultural Affairs. Results of the restoration of this part of Columbia has resulted in a flourishing arts and crafts center. A handsome Gallery Guide for Columbia and its museums is available.
Music and lots of it can be found at The Blue Note. Located in a classic theater built in 1927 for vaudeville and early cinema it has a full stage and will seat five hundred people. Richard King has been operating the Blue Note since 1988 bringing well known musical groups to Columbia. It is located in The District, a forty three block area of Columbia that has been an economic development project.
We were delighted with our accommodations in Columbia. The Stoney Creek Inn, with its North Woods Lodge decor and ambiance, was something we could relate to. Our room was unusually spacious and completely equipped with coffee maker, refrigerator, micro wave, huge TV screen, writing desk and our favorite, a comfy rocker. Stoney Creei Inn is one of a mid-west chain but our visit was a first for us.
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