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Historic Columbia Home Slated For Demolition

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – A Columbia landmark named after a prominent black restaurant owner and caterer could soon be torn down after its owners received permission from the city to demolish it.

The Anne Fisher House on Old Highway 63 once was the site of a restaurant that catered to some notable figures and was run by a woman whose famous biscuits were served at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Sheila Ruffin has been trying to find ways to preserve the landmark, but she doesn’t have the money to buy it and hasn’t been able to generate any large-scale support.

“It’s a wonderful story, and  it’s about to be bulldozed,” Ruffin said.

The house’s current owners,  Merle and Charlotte Smarr, filed a request to demolish the house on July 27 and a 10-day waiting period has expired for the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to issue a resolution regarding the property.

Charlotte Smarr said the house has been vacant for several years and there were plans to tear it down in 2009, but the owners waited to see if there would be a buyer.

“`We bent over backwards,” she said.

She declined to reveal what would be done with the property, what the asking price is or when it would be demolished. She said she would still accept and offer on the house if someone wants to buy it.

“If the community wants to buy it, more power to them,” Smarr said.

According to a description of the house written by a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, the house was built in the 1920s and Fisher was known as one of the first prominent black business owners in Columbia.

Ruffin said the demolition of the home would not erase Fisher’s legacy, but it would be tough keeping her memory alive for future generations if there is no “concrete remembrance” of her life.

“It’s a sad day for the black community, and it’s a sad day for Columbia,” she said.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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