The first building on the campus of the University of Missouri, founded in 1839, was Academic Hall. Sadly, a fire destroyed it in 1892, and the building's six limestone columns were all that remained. Before long, the Board of Curators ordered their removal. However, supporters rallied in the columns' defense. Following structural inspections, the Board reversed its decision and allowed the columns to remain. Today, they are an enduring symbol of the University, and stand proudly at the heart of the historic Francis Quadrangle. IAA conducted a survey and analysis of the columns in order to better understand their condition, investigate the nature and history of repairs following the fire of 1892, and make recommendations for future preservation efforts. IAA also established a method for future monitoring and analysis.
This was a project of preservation, not restoration. Due to the columns' embodiment of campus history and longevity, their natural wear and weathering is considered to be a beautiful symbol of perseverance. All investigative analysis procedures to determine the stability of the columns were conducted in a non-invasive, non-destructive manner. In the same spirit, all alterations resulting from the investigation were kept to a minimum. Laser scanning helped to create a 3D, digital representation of the columns. This provided a far more precise record drawing than could be achieved with manual measuring and photo documentation. Lastly, ground penetrating radar helped to establish the location and internal condition of the concrete base columns, eliminating the need for destructive testing. Findings revealed only minor deficiencies. Crack and delamination repairs were made and each of the stone bases were stabilized. All data collected will serve as a benchmark used to monitor the changing state of the columns over time, and help to track settlement, rotation, shift, deterioration and alignment.