The facilities of the Art + Design Department are about to get a little grander as they expand to the first floor of a three-story, late-Victorian building, acquired by Missouri State. Located on 326 N. Boonville, this space will offer another professional venue for the exhibition of art and design works of students and faculty and will also host exhibitions brought in from around the globe. The 131-year-building—walking distance from Brick City and perfectly suited for public access—even has the capabilities to feature small performances and film screenings. Holding a spot on the National Register of Historic Place, this building has a rich, local history.
The building was built by Prussian-born immigrant, Conrad Gottfried. Less than 25 years after Springfield’s incorporation as a city, Gottfried set out west with dreams of finding fortune in California. Gottfried and his family were passing through as winter weather slowed their pace, forcing them to stay in Springfield until the spring. A carpenter by trade, Gottfried built furniture and cabinets as they waited for warmer weather. When spring arrived, Gottfried and his family decided to stay in Springfield, and he opened The Gottfried Furniture Company—which turned out to be one of the oldest businesses in the city. The company would remain in the family until 1947, by Gottfried’s son and grandson. According to the Springfield News-Leader, the success of his furniture company was greatly due to a population boom between 1880 and 1890, which lead to “an increase in business around the public square.”
Still into the 21st century, downtown Springfield is a popular and eclectic place to gather. Two projects: the Daylighting of Jordan Valley Creek and the expansion of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC), will be contributing even more to this bustling area. “The goal of the [Daylight process] is to bring more business to that part of downtown ahead of the city’s Grant Avenue Parkway extension and an already underway expansion of Missouri State’s IDEA Commons,” shares Jason Wert for Ozarks Independent. Creating an urban waterway will contribute to the more walkable environment made by the Grant Avenue Parkway Project, which will connect the Wonders of Wildlife Museum to downtown. One notable element of the JVIC development will include the expansion of Missouri State’s IDEA Commons area, which will “add 30,000 square feet to the existing property,” according to the Springfield Business Journal.
There is much to look forward to as Missouri State, the Art + Design Department, and downtown Springfield continue to grow and expand to better the lives of students and Springfield residents. Renovations are planned to prepare the space as a top-notch exhibition space with plans to hold the first exhibit in August 2021.