Spring 2008 Forward to a Friend

RESTORING A NEAR-CENTURY-OLD WAREHOUSE HE OWNS IN THE COLLEGE TOWN OF COLUMBIA, MISSOURI, ARCHITECT BRIAN PAPE IS BOTH UNDAUNTED AND EXHAUSTED. REPAIRING DAMAGE FROM TERMITES, FIRE, WEATHER, AND AGE IN THE 40,000-SQUARE-FOOT BRICK BEHEMOTH “... HAS BEEN ONE HECK OF AN ORDEAL,” HE CONFIDED.

PRESERVATIONIST ROOTS

Brian Pape is one of Missouri’s leading historic preservationists. He grew up in Wisconsin and restored his first historic building – an old woolen mill – in Cedarburg. A young architect who had worked in New York City and Maui, Hawaii, Pape found his life’s work in his Midwestern roots. “You might say the Cedarburg mill was my first preservation inspiration,” Pape said. “It catalyzed a small-town renaissance.”

Twenty-two tons of scrap metal and acres of debris into his $4 million magnum opus in Columbia, Pape made an ironic discovery. What he’d really been tackling for two arduous years wasn’t the old Diggs meat-packing warehouse. It was the Wright Brothers1 Barn, a giant stable built to house a breed of workhorse famous for its strength and stubbornness – a cross between a Clydesdale and a donkey called the “Missouri mule.”

The mule barn renovation is part of a now-nationwide renaissance – the adaptive reuse of historic buildings that have irreplaceable features and old-time charm.

In brick crown molding, Pape saw what he termed “... high craftsmanship, especially for a mule barn.” Custom-cutting aged oak beams, Amish craftsmen in nearby Clark, Missouri, replaced more than half of the 80 10-inch-by-10-inch solid oak posts that support the barn’s 12-foot ceilings.


The red brick building also sports the city’s first green roof, a living color pot of weather-resistant plants that reduce air conditioner use and storm-water runoff.

GREEN DESIGN

In restoring history, Pape also is making history. The old barn’s new lofts, art studios, and office space will earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED is a national program that recognizes environmentally friendly “green” design, making its first-ever appearance in Columbia.

The red brick building also sports the city’s first green roof, a living color pot of weather-resistant plants that reduce air conditioner use and storm-water runoff.

“My wife said restoring the building was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Pape explained.

TOUGH AS A MULE

A hardworking vehicle has been part of Pape’s project. “The other day I was hauling a piece of drywall that one of our contractors forgot to pick up,” Pape said, pointing to his white 2001 Subaru Outback Limited Wagon. “Before that, it was an armload of plans, and today I’m chauffeuring two bankers who want to check our progress before they release more funds.”

Pape and his wife, Joy – a nationally known diabetes expert – sold a 1999 Outback Limited Wagon before moving up to their current vehicle, a birthday present from his three children personalized with the license plate “ARCTEK.”

“It was the only spelling of architect still available,” Pape said.

The Papes discovered Subaru’s hardy horsepower near snowy Colorado’s Green Mountain, where friends had a Subaru wagon that “... they only drove when the weather was at its worst,” Pape said. “They joked that Subaru was the State Car of Colorado. We figured we couldn’t go wrong.”

  1. No relation to the famous aviators.


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Missouri Mules Facts

  • In Missouri, raising mules used to be big business. Bill and Pleas Wright built Columbia’s Wright Brothers Barn in 1919-1920 to feed and trade as many as 300 locally bred Missouri mules. Then, as now, the building sported the latest designs. Attendants fed mules in pens on the ground floor from a loft one story up. Plenty of windows provided abundant sunlight.
  • Named Missouri’s official state animal in 1995, the mule was an ancient Roman workhorse. The hybrid offspring of a female draft horse and a male donkey, Missouri mules were bred to work even harder tilling and toiling in Missouri’s tough clay soil.
  • Missouri mules pulled wagons to America’s Wild West and later, artillery to France’s western front during World War I. In The Heritage of Missouri, historian Duane Meyer wrote about the mules that went to war: "The Missouri mule went without his oats and waded through mud and over shell holes. He slept nights out in the rain and cold. He kept his 'hee-haw' muffled at critical moments."
  • Proud son of a mule dealer, native Missourian and U.S. President Harry S. Truman invited four hometown mules to march up Pennsylvania Avenue in his 1949 inaugural parade.
  • Today, the world’s most famous mules may be parade regulars Hilda and Louise, from the University of Missouri (MU) College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbia. Widely considered the world’s foremost mule expert, MU animal science professor C. Melvin Bradley said of his favorite animal, "They farmed our land, hauled our timber, drained our swamps, took us to church and war. Now we’re having fun with them."