City hears theatre restoration plans

The Maplewood Barn Community Theatre was destroyed in an April fire.
Bill Crawford, president emeritus of the Boone County Historical Society, discusses the importance of making the new Maplewood Barn look historic during a proposal meeting Tuesday at the Walters-Boone County Historical Society Museum. The meeting outlined possible designs and financing for the barn as well as a timeline for completion.

The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department hosted a meeting Tuesday at Walters-Boone County Museum to review plans to rebuild the Maplewood Barn Community Theatre after an April fire destroyed the city fixture.

Community leaders and MU faculty members discussed two design and improvement options for the theatre, named Option A and Option B.

Columbia residents can choose a design by filling out a [survey online](online = http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/ParksandRec/Maplewood_Barn/index.php) or by voting at the Heritage Festival in September.

Lyria Bartlett, adjunct instructor in the MU Department of Architectural Studies, presented the plans on two diagram models with each one featuring computer-animated blueprints of the theatre's interior and exterior.

Students John Bohlmeyer, Rashad Abdul-Majid and Stephanie Kettner assisted Bartlett with designing the diagrams and the presentation.

Bartlett said Option A illustrated an extension on the front of the barn to partially cover the stage, which would also be kept in the same location to maintain the historical value. She said she met with the president of the Boone County Historical Society to ensure the historical accuracy of the theatre.

"We really want to utilize the stage and keep it intact," Bartlett said.

The community building is known in Columbia for producing plays performed on an outdoor stage, but meeting attendees voiced concerns about plumbing and space protection.

Maple Barn Association Vice President Lee Wilkins Black said the theatre has never had indoor plumbing.

"The old barn has no indoor plumbing," she said. "It hasn't had it for 38 years."

Option A showed that theatre functions, such as staging, interior plumbing and storage would be placed on the side of the barn. The limited amount of space in the barn does not allow for expansion of general space.

Columbia Parks Services Manager Mike Griggs said he is not worried about the barn's plumbing, but is more focused on its interior maintenance.

"We're not so concerned about toilets and sinks as much as we are about the preservation of the structure," he said.

Option B illustrates a larger space in the middle of the building for rehearsal space, performances and indoor plumbing with the stage completely covered. According to the diagram, loading and creating performance sets would be easier to implement.

The barn would be slightly rotated and shifted backwards, but large enough for possible expansions. The proposed new position would block noise from nearby Highway 63.

Bartlett said the configuration would give the audience a feeling of sitting in an amphitheatre because it would be positioned on a slight incline.

Both options would leave the size dimensions of the foot of the building the same, but might result in a size difference on the second floor. Theatre functions, including plumbing, would remain on the sides of the building no matter which design is chosen.

Bartlett said the choice of covering or partially covering the stage can be incorporated in either design.

Fundraising is one of the most important factors in determining the features and final conception of the theatre. Black said the association's fundraising goal is $50,000. She said the redesign would stay within the budget.

"We will build what we have the money for," Black said.

Bartlett said she does not feel the expense of either option will deter people from choosing one option over another. "I think the question is 'Do you want something that's more like a barn or more like a theatre?'" she said.

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