Simmons’ Stables – Entry Three

Simmons’ Stables is interlaced in the rich fabric of many great pasts. It’s a critical piece of local, state and national history, contributing significantly to the development of Saddlebred history as well as the early history of the African American horseman, Tom Bass.  The great legacy makes it a perfect candidate for a public-private partnership to fund the restoration and conservation of the structure.

Project Funding

In 2002, the Simmons’ Stable Preservation Fund was established to protect the Simmons’ Stable. Within two years, the Fund secured Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. These tax credits helped spur donations from local, state and national contributors totaling $500,000. Late in 2004, the stable was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Listed as the Arthur Simmons’ Stable Historic District, the site was awarded a Save America’s Treasures matching grant of $250,000 in 2005.

Implications of Public and Private Funding

Multiple funding sources are a dream for those trying to make the impossible possible, however, they create a unique challenge for the design team. Before a project can begin it’s necessary for the project team to understand the heightened level of coordination, analysis and documentation. It’s also vital for the project team to develop an acute awareness and sensitivity to expectations.

As a historical landmark, the Simmons’ Stable is not only a great historical structure, but also a significant component to local heritage. It is essential for the project team to consider the impact on the local community, as well as their personal ties and expectations. The community of men and women who interacted with these structures in their work, play and daily life becomes a client. While it is often difficult to balance the unique expectations of these individuals, they are a tremendous resource for the design team.

In addition to requiring a heightened sensitivity to local expectations, projects like Simmons’ Stable also require a sophisticated level of coordination. Each funding source has its own unique guidelines for documentation and mangement from start to finish. While each party may share similar goals for the ultimate development of the project, each outlines its own responsibilities, means and methods. Funded through multiple entities, the Simmons’ Stable had three distinct funding sources each requiring varying levels of management.

The Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits, administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, required minimal documentation and coordination from the design team. The requirements of the tax credits were managed by the Simmons’ Stable Preservation Trust and included quarterly reports, a final report and an audit of the project resources.

Comprised of passionate locals, the Simmons’ Stable Preservation Trust represented both private and public interests. This team managed the funding resources for the project and served as a compass of local interests and concerns.

The National Parks Service, administrator of the Save America’s Treasure grant, was an active participant in the process from start to finish; although, most participation occured in the initial project processes – including documentation and analysis of the Simmons’ Stable.

A significant portion of funding administration is tied to the documentation and analysis of the historic structure. this intensive process is perhaps the most significant element of a historical restoration project. Next week, I’ll detail the processes behind this careful analysis and documentation of the Simmons’ Stable.