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Fate of Daniel Boone Home up in the air

Lindenwood President Michael Shonrock and St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann on April 29 sign off on the donation of the Daniel Boone Home and surrounding property to St. Charles County.

Lindenwood President Michael Shonrock and St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann sign off on the donation of the Daniel Boone Home and surrounding property to St. Charles County.

Just what will become of the historic Daniel Boone Home and its surrounding property when it becomes a county park as early as the middle of May remains to be seen.

For now, the home will remain open for business, as it has since 1998, when it was acquired by Lindenwood University. It has been operated as a tourism and education attraction since then. However, that may change over time as St. Charles County takes over the property.

“I think it’s safe to say that we will be continuing what Lindenwood has been doing out there,” said County Executive Steve Ehlmann at a news conference April 29 held at the Lindenwood campus in St. Charles. “But we have long-term plans as well to develop the entire acreage as a county park to develop the types of amenities that go along with that.”

Ehlmann said the county hopes for a smooth transition, with a long-term major investment planned for the property. But the details of what “Lindenwood Park” will become – the new name for the home and adjacent property that Ehlmann announced – will come later.

The purpose of the news conference was to formally announce that Lindenwood had donated the home and the nearly 300 acres it sits on – including the adjoining 66-acre Boonesfield Village, plus more than 200 acres of surrounding property – to the county.

Ehlmann and county officials say the new park adds significantly to the acreage in the county set aside for parks.  The home is located along a “gorgeous” piece of largely undeveloped property, Ehlmann said, located off Highway F in the largely rural southwestern part of the county near New Melle.

“The Boone home is the gem of St. Charles County” said Councilman Joe Brazil [District 2]. “We really didn’t want it to go to a private investor either; we want to secure it so everybody could use [it].”

Councilman Mark Elam [District 3] said the property is a great asset that fits well with other county parkland. “It’s a seamless fit,” Elam said.

The County Council approved a donation agreement between Lindenwood and the county at their April 25 meeting, and county officials say the transfer may be final by mid-May. County officials also are expected to retain existing staff, making room in the county’s budget to pay for up to five full-time and other part-time positions.

Along with the property, which includes more than 20 historic structures moved there in recent years, the county is also expected to receive maintenance equipment.

In exchange for its donation, Lindenwood will receive a $500,000 credit in rent costs for commencement exercises held at the county-owned Family Arena, Lindenwood officials said. The annual rental cost has been about $60,000 a year for commencement ceremonies.

The Daniel Boone Home and Family Arena were also the focus of discussions in 2010 when the university and county briefly explored a possible trade, Lindenwood officials said. But according to county officials, nothing came out of the talks at that time.

Lindenwood resumed discussions about the Boone home last year after Missouri officials turned down transferring the site to the state park system. In December 2014, the university had begun discussing a purchase of the site by the state, but state officials said in 2015 that they weren’t going to buy the property, said Chris Duggan, a spokesperson for the university.

“I came on in June last year and we started assessing all the properties we had, and we started talking long term what we would like to continue in terms of various programs and activities,” said Lindenwood University President Michael Shonrock.  “It didn’t take long to talk about what we wanted to do.”

The university acquired 233 acres and the Boone home from the Andrae family in 1998. The family operated the home and village as a tourist attraction and education site.

The university accepted the donation of the property, made repairs to existing buildings and reconstructed and relocated others, bringing the village to more than 20 historic buildings. Lindenwood added a pavilion, a maintenance complex and a new tower and sewage system.

The university also bought other property near the home to enhance education and recreational opportunities. In all, university officials say they spent more than $11 million.

The four-story Georgian-style structure was built by Daniel Boone’s son, Nathan. Daniel Boone spent his final years at the home and died there in 1820.

The new park will add to 3,174 acres in county parkland, which now includes 11 parks.  Other new parks include the 80-acre College Meadows Park in Cottleville – opened last year as part of an agreement with St. Charles Community College on land owned by the school – and Pitman Hill/Kisker Park near Weldon Spring, expected to open in 2017. Along with opened parks, the county also has 542 acres in undeveloped land.

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