Kemper Alumni announces plan, attempting to save Kemper Administration Building
The Kemper Military School Alumni Association announced a fundraising campaign to raise funds to save the Kemper Administration Building at the Boonville City Council meeting Monday evening.
Laura Gramlich, vice president of the Kemper Military School Alumni Association, said the alumni would like some time to try to save the administration building. She asked the council to consider the effort, which will raise funds in three steps.
According to the plan, the first step would be to make the building structurally sound. Part two and three would include a full renovation of the structure.
“I stand before the council to raise funds for the administration building. Today we start the official campaign to save the Kemper buildings through an establishment of a foundation and trust. We are in the process of setting up an account at a local bank, which will be governed by four trustees. The funds raised and level of success will come from support of the alumni, local supporters and those interested in historic preservation. If none of these goals are achieved, money in the trust will be used to help renovate other buildings on the campus to ensure Kemper remains a usable area,” Gramlich said.
Gramlich also said the alumni is looking to finish an application process to designate the administration building one of the 11 most-endangered places in the United States.
Why should the administration building be saved, Gramlich asked?
“It has hosted thousands of guests since its establishment in 1844, including the many cadets who considered the campus home. The campus hosted dignitaries, families and tourist. Many alumni went on to lead successful careers who originally walked through the doors of the administration building,” Gramlich said.
She added, last year, over 100 alumni came to visit the campus during the annual alumni weekend in October.
Columbia resident and last Kemper Military School Corp Commander Danny Hammock spoke about the importance of saving the administration building. He also gave credence of the fundraising efforts of the alumni, stating when the school was threatened with closure, over $800,000 was raised by cadets alone to keep the school open.
Friends of Historic Boonville Executive Director Melissa Strawhun voiced her support for the alumni's efforts to save the administration building. She stated the Friends are about preserving the past and think the building is a very important building in Boonville's history.
Furthermore, the Boonville City Council was very open to the idea and stated they would be happy to wait to see if the efforts of the alumni association could save the administration building.
Boonville Ward One Councilman said he wanted to reverse his motion to demolish the building, stating if he had known then what he knew today he would have not made the motion at the previous council meeting.
Former State Fair Community College President Marsha Drennon outlined a plan for for the future of the Kemper Campus. This plan included a combination of education, military and housing.
Drennon said the council needs to be thinking long term. She also told the council to think about making partnerships outside the area, maybe the region perhaps.
“We need to think big,” Drennon said.
Boonville City Building Inspector Steve Hage said some of the roofs need some major attention and need to be replaced on the campus.
“The longer we wait, the more the cost goes up,” Hage said.
The cost of the replacing the roofs could exceed $350,000 according to Hage's estimate.
Kelley said if the roofs are not replaced soon, the buildings could deteriorate enough beyond repair.