Let us not cast stones at Jefferson City for being a town that likes to talk about things for a long time before doing them. This is, after all, a government town where many of its citizens spend their days in cubicles, and those citizens are masters at conducting meetings and talking about things and making reports and then putting the reports on shelves until they have another round of meetings. You probably have heard of the new task force that studied state transportation needs and financing of them—five years after another task force studied state transportation needs and financing of them?
While doing some research at the State Historical Society the other day, I came across a newspaper article headlined, “Mrs. Jas. Houchin Starts Movement for $50,000.00 Y. M.C.A. in Jefferson City.” It was October, 1915.
The organization of a Young Men’s Christian Association and the construction of a well-equipped building as its headquarters is the plan which Mrs. James A. Houchin has conceived and will carry out within the next year, probably within the next few months.
She already had put down five-thousand dollars on a lot. “I believe the building should have a gymnasium and a swimming pool. It will maintain a library, reading rooms and a basketball court,” she said. She was impressed with the YMCA in Sedalia which had bedrooms on its third floor to rent to club members.
Mrs. Houchin died in 1924. Jefferson City finally formed its “Y” in 1970.
We are still waiting on another idea, though. The Daily Capital News on June 7, 1923 carried a letter on the front page from local lawyer and legislator A. T. Dumm saying it was time the people of the capital city built a convention hall. Dumm was the president of the Commercial Club—which later was the Chamber of Commerce—and was a member of the state constitutional convention that had recently met.
Editor Capital News: Responding to your request for a suggestion for the advancement and betterment of Jefferson City, I beg to suggest, for the consideration of your readers and the community, the idea of a convention hall.
I think we have reached a point in our growth and population where we might confidently launch such an enterprise and that it is highly desirable if not absolutely necessary must be evident…
Jefferson City, like every other city of its class and consequence, must be prepared to meet the demands and requirements, not only of its own people, but of those who, through business or pleasure, become our guests.
We pride ourselves on the fact that we are the capital of a great state, but we should have a personality and an individuality of our own and not be dependent upon the state for the means of hospitality and entertainment for our visitors. Outside of the two great cities, we are fast becoming the convention city of the state, and our importance in this respect will increase with every passing year.
A Convention Hall, centrally located, built and paid for by our own people, for the free use of our people and those who come to the capital, would, in my opinion, result in a great increase of our civic pride and advertise us throughout the state more favorably and extensively than any other single factor except good streets in the city and good roads leading to the city.
His friends called him “Tom,” because of his middle name. He died in 1930.
It took fifty-five years for Mrs. Houchin’s dream of a YMCA to materialize. It’s now ninety-four years and still talking since Tom Dumm voiced his hope.