MARTHASVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Beginning Tuesday, the historic Van Horn Tavern will be taken apart and moved to a site near Marthasville to ensure its continued preservation.
For almost 40 years, Patrick Dougherty and his wife, Rita, have taken care of the nearly 200-year-old structure, which is located just west of Columbia. But now, having recently turned 80, Dougherty said he can’t maintain it as he used to.
After a deal he had with the Boone County Historical Society to assume ownership of the building fell through early this year with no other options brought forth, Patrick Dougherty said the only way to make sure it will continue to exist is to move it to Bernardo Brunetti’s Boone Monument Village.
The historical society originally was going to pay an estimated $250,000 to have it disassembled and moved to Nifong Park on Columbia’s south side, but after being unable to raise the cash, it had to drop its proposal, The Columbia Daily Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1bBzt3L ).
Dougherty said he understood funding was an issue for the society, and even though the structure won’t stay in Boone County, he’s happy it will be preserved.
“Everybody wanted to keep it here and did their best to keep it here, and it turned out this was the only option left to move it to the site near Marthasville,” he said.
Dougherty was careful in his decision on where it would go, he said. He wanted it to be accessible to the public and be in an educational setting. After visiting with Brunetti and inquiring about the tavern’s fate, he said he is sure he’s making the right choice. Every year since he and his wife have owned the 6½-acre plot of land the tavern is on, between 20 and 30 history enthusiasts have come to see it.
“It was enough to make you realize that people were interested in it,” he said.
Brunetti is passionate about history and preserving the legacy of the Boonslick trail, he said, where the tavern was the first stopping point westward from Columbia in frontier days. Its origins go back to at least 1830.
“It’s a very meaningful historical structure,” Brunetti said. “It’s one of the very few original taverns left, if not the only one left on the salt lick road.”
His monument village, when finished, will be a replica of a small frontier town from the mid-1800s, complete with a schoolhouse, church, log cabins and the tavern.
It shouldn’t take more than 10 days to deconstruct the tavern piece-by-piece, Brunetti said, and then move it to his site. With winter coming and some restoration work to be done — the center hallway, staircase and second floor need to be rebuilt — he said it will be at least nine months and possibly a year before it will be completely reassembled at the village. Since he employs a crew that does this type of work regularly, he estimated his total cost for the project to be around $200,000. The tavern likely will remain in storage over the winter.
The goal is to teach people about the history of the tavern and the famous people who stayed there, Brunetti said, including Washington Irving and Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Mormon Church.
Dougherty and Brunetti were put in contact by Dave Sapp, former president of the Boone County Historical Society, through a friend of Sapp’s.
“It’s a very rare kind of thing,” Sapp said. “It’s a big project. It requires some resources, some passion and capabilities and he’s got them all.”
With Brunetti’s experience in historic preservation — he owns several such properties in greater St. Louis — Sapp said he’s confident the tavern will be in good hands.
“Turned out we found a very good alternative,” Sapp said, “albeit one that won’t keep it in Boone County.”
An AP Member Exchange contributed by The Columbia Daily Tribune