History of The Gathering Place Bed and Breakfast
Cora (Gans) Davenport purchased this land in 1905 to build her private residence. She hired Nobel Gibson as the builder. Mr. Gibson completed the house and signed it on the last piece of wood siding high on the northwest front corner of the house, October 9, 1906. We have the original piece of signed wood. The property was annexed into the city of Columbia in 1906.
Cora owned the home until 1918. Throughout the 1920's it was home to several widows. Between 1930 and 1933, the home was renovated and the south wing added by the Simon Construction Company. Their company mark was found on the main supporting steel beams in the middle of the house and the windows on the south had the dates on the sashes.
In 1936, the house was home to Lambda Chi Alpha, the first of four fraternities to live here. (The others were Alpha Gamma Rho, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Tau Gamma.) In the 1960's, 70's and 80's, Edith Beary owned the house and divided it into eight apartments.
Shirley and Ross Duff, and their children, Deiter, Kristin and Jim Steelman, purchased the property in 1994. Since the Duff family enjoyed having people over for parties, study groups, or just fun, the name "The Gathering Place" was chosen for this house, which is entirely devoted to having people come and visit and feel at home.
A complete renovation and restoration was undertaken June 12, 1995. David Williams of Rocheport served as contractor and master carpenter.
Careful architectural studies were done which revealed the original foursquare plan of the home and the location of the central hallway which had been completely closed off by the plumbing of the apartment era of the 1960's. A 1936 fraternity member who still lived in the east campus area, helped recall the staircase location.
Using a 1936 University of Missouri Savitar picture of the house, the front porch was completely rebuilt, preserving the twin bay windows and restoring the clapboard siding. The graceful curved wood molding above the front door was present in the 1936 picture. It was refinished and repainted, widened, and replaced above the current door. The porch pillars of limestone sit on three foot by six foot foundations laid in 1905.
The home was gutted and taken down to the studs, removing 122,000 pounds of plaster and cast iron plumbing. Some studs still go from the foundation to the top in balloon construction fashion.
On November 8, 1995, a fire caused by a construction worker during the final phase of renovation threatened reconstruction, destroying the third and most of the second story framing. The water used to control the fire ruined the original pine and oak flooring which was to be reconditioned.
In keeping with a faithful restoration, hardwood floors were replaced throughout the home, with oak being used for guest rooms and the innkeepers quarters, and black walnut for the common areas and staircase. The stair spindles, handrails and newel posts were commissioned from Neenah, Wisconsin, with the exception of the newel posts on the curved balcony and the spindles going to the third floor that are from an 1851 home in Clinton, Missouri.
In May 2008, the University of Missouri College of Ag Foundation, a private corporation, purchased the bed and breakfast near the MU campus and leases it to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
The bed and breakfast will provide an educational experience for students studying hospitality management as well as other majors within the University of Missouri—giving them a first-hand look at managing a hotel, serving customer needs and creating an upscale ambiance.
Serving as a private residence, fraternity house, apartment building and since July 24, 1996 as a college town bed and breakfast, The Gathering Place has overlooked the white campus of the University of Missouri since 20 years before the Memorial Union Tower was built in the winter in 1925-26.
Interlocking Circle Glass Window
During a visit to Shakertown, Kentucky, the Duffs found a leaded, beveled glass window in Louisville. The central design on the window is four interlocking circles. This window, along with eight complementary panels from Village Glass Works, sparkles with the morning sun in the dining room. The core design was translated into The Gathering Place's graphic logo which greets guests in the mosaic of the front foyer.
Origin of the Room Names
Each of the rooms in the Gathering Place is named after a university course as the Duffs have seven degrees from the University of Missouri. The rooms are furnished with typical Missouri and American antiques and feature walnut, Missouri's premium native wood. Some of the furniture pieces have a solid Missouri history known about them, and some are dated and signed. All are functional and used by our guests. Original art work, both antique and current, hangs throughout the house.
Copyright © 2012 Gathering Place Bed & Breakfast, Columbia MO.