Renovations have begun on one of the oldest buildings in Columbia.
Nakhle Asmar, mathematics professor and owner of the Niedermeyer Apartments, said that the building needs the renovations due to its nearly 200 years of age.
“The building requires obvious upgrades that are visible from the outside,” Asmar said. “At this point, I am updating the electrical system to allow for updates of the heating and cooling systems to make more energy-efficient systems.”
The renovations will occur at a pace to keep the residents living in the apartments comfortable, Asmar said.
“All this will be done incrementally so as to not overwhelm the tenants with construction,” Asmar said. “The process is also slow because it is done in consultation with an architect, the city and the Historical Preservation Commission.”
The building is registered in Columbia’s 2013 Most Notable Properties list, and Asmar said it is his goal to put the Niedermeyer on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building has many aspects that are outdated, but they are not too noticeable, sophomore tenant Jeremy Rohrer said.
“To me, right now, it’s fine the way it is,” Rohrer said. “There are definitely little things that need to be taken care of but (Asmar) is doing a lot to take care of those issues.”
Rohrer has lived in the building since January.
The idea for the building started in 1833, when a local man, General Richard Gentry, wanted to establish a school for girls, as he had several daughters. In February 1837, he purchased a lot on which the school was built, according to “History of Boone County, Missouri.”
In 2010, a crane fell through the roof and in December 2012, Asmar purchased the building, which would have otherwise been bought and demolished by Collegiate Housing Partners, a student housing company.
Seeing a lot of new student housing, Columbia residents came together to save the building, Historic Preservation Commission member Brent Gardner said.
“It’s a well-known building,” Gardner said. “And there’s so much new high-rise student housing. It was a bad combination.”
The funds for the new renovation will come from a private account, and Asmar said he has not yet calculated the cost.
“The building is rich in history,” Asmar said. “All the renovations are done so as to preserve the historical value of the building. Any repairs that we foresee will not affect in any way the shape or the look of the building.”
The building has a special feeling which draws residents to it, Asmar said.
“There is a charm to the building that you do not feel in any of the newer constructions,” Asmar said. “I believe that this charm is what attracts tenants to the building.”
Senior and former tenant John Bell said the building is unique to him.
“I lived there my sophomore year,” Bell said. “I loved that it was downtown and convenient and all my neighbors were cool. But it was my first apartment, my first place, and that’s what makes it special to me.”
Bell said he did not know of building’s history when he first moved in.
“The fact it was pretty old, which I didn’t know at first, made it cool,” Bell said.
The building is great to live in as a college student, Rohrer said.
“It’s got personality and location,” Rohrer said. “It can get a little rowdy, but other than that, you can’t beat it.”