At the University of Missouri, six limestone columns are all that remain of Academic Hall, the first building erected on the campus in 1843. On January 9, 1892 a fire consumed and destroyed the entire building. Despite plans to tear them down, Columbia citizen, Jerry Dorsey passionately argued for the Columns’ preservation. Board President, Gideon Rothwell was so moved by the events that he had a complete change of heart, uttering the line, “Let these Columns stand. Let them stand for a thousand years.” Since then, the campus has taken shape around the iconic landmark. The elements and damage incurred from the fire threaten the longevity of the columns, however.
For the Columns' conservation, we relied on both traditional, as well as innovative methods to preserve and make them safer. As an iconic landmark representing the entire state, preserving their visual characteristics was critical. For this reason, we adopted a minimally invasive conservation approach. A number of delaminated stones were pinned back, some through the use of stainless steel, orthopedic surgical bone screws, and secured to the shafts. Additionally, three different grouts - custom limestone patching and pointing mortars, custom natural hydraulic lime grout, custom dispersed hydraulic lime grout - depending on the size of fracture, were used to seal the Columns and prevent moisture penetration. The subscribed masonry conservation was of monumental quality, and will ensure decades of longevity. Additionally, the installation of GIS survey prisms to monitor shifting and rotation will allow noninvasive analysis of issues and the opportunity to proactively treat them in years to come.