Listed on the National Historic Register, Maplewood House was built in 1877 by Slater Ensor Lenoir and his wife Margaret Bradford Lenoir, both of whom were members of Boone County pioneer families. The farmstead was called Maplewood because it was located in a grove of large sugar maple trees. Only four people lived in the home; the Lenoirs, their daughter Lavinia, and later Lavinia’s husband, Dr. Frank G. Nifong.
The main house was constructed with bricks fired on site and in part with lumber obtained on the surrounding farm. The house shows the influence of the Italianate architectural style, featuriing decorative corbels supporting the projecting eave of the roof; arched windows; a bay window; a balustered front balcony and oriole window. The original footprint of the house was T-shaped, with sleeping porches built along the south side of the house. Built with an eye to the expedience of a working farm and best practices in safety, the house included a separate summer kitchen, and originally had a covered walkway that connected to the back door of the house and the serving pantry. In 1891 the sleeping porches were enclosed and an octagonal wing was added to the south side of the house. At the back of the house, a foundation was dug and an interior kitchen and servant’s room on the second floor were added.
With the return of the newly married Frank and Lavinia Lenoir to the house in 1905, bathrooms were added to the west ends of the enclosed sleeping porches, and the house was wired for electricity. Across the front of the house, the porch was enclosed to make a sun room, and a porte cochere was added to the north side of the house, over the driveway and leading to the carriage house.
THE MAPLEWOOD FARM SITE
The original farmstead included 427 acres surrounding the house to the east and west. A large pond was situated south of the house. In addtion to the family home, buildings on the property included the now separate summer kitchen, which later served as a cottage for family serving staff; a four-bay carriage house with storage and living quarters above; a utility house; a hay barn; and a large barn for animals. The animal barn was converted to a summer theater playhouse, called the Mapelewood Barn Theater after the property was purchased by the City of Columbia. It was lost to fire in 2011 and rebuilt and dedicated in 2012,
After Slater and Margaret died in the late 1920s, a significant portion of the estate was given to the National Christian Benevolent Association as an endowment to build Lenoir Manor and Lenoir Retirement Community, still located across Highway 63. After the deaths of Frank and Lavinia Nifong in the 1950s, the remainder of the estate was deeded to the Christian Benevolent Association.
In 1970 the City of Columbia bought 60 acres of the original farm with the house, the remaining furnishings, and the adjacent farm buildings. The area was named the Frank G. Nifong Memorial Park and today is called Historic Nifong Park in recognition of the work of historic preservation undertaken by the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department Dept, and the Boone County Historical Society. The park was formally dedicated on November 8, 1970 as a feature of the Columbia-Boone County Sesquicentennial Commission activities.
The sun room and porte cochere were removed as part of the restoration in 1976. A porch typical of he turn of the century was reconstructed across the front of the house, using photos taken around the turn of the century helped guide the restoration. Interior work included repapering the parlors, dining room and hallway, and refinishing original the interior wood trim. Upstairs, original carpet remains on the floor.
Restored in l976 as a bicentennial project, Maplewood House was officially dedicated and opened to the public on July 3, 1976 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places April 13, 1979. The home is currently operated jointly by the Boone County Historical Sociery and City of Columbia Parks and Recreation.
Maplewood is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, May through September. Exhibits are presented throughout the year, relative to the era and culture of the house and its formaer occupants.
For more information about the house and grounds, or about tours, call 573-443-8936. Click this linkfor additional information about tours.