Two Missouri military veterans received a free stay at the Gathering Place Bed and Breakfast in Columbia as part of a nationwide project to thank former and current personnel for their service.
Vietnam-era veterans from St. Louis and Greenwood got the two largest rooms at the B and B built in 1905, the Missouri Room and the Chemistry Room.
More than 850 B and Bs and inns in 49 states and eight other countries provided free rooms on Wednesday, Nov. 10, in observance of Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The program was started in 2009 by the West Virginia B and B Association.
“This was a fantastic opportunity to recognize the courageous men and women from our armed forces,” said James Hundle, operations manager of the B and B. “They have sacrificed much for the rest of us. Providing them a good night’s rest is our way to say, thank you.”
The Gathering Place was one of ten Missouri B and Bs participating in the program. The facility is operated by the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources as an educational experience for students studying hotel and restaurant management.
“We are looking forward to meeting our guests, sharing time with them and making them feel welcome,” said Deborah Strid, The Gathering Place innkeeper.
Her husband, Marc Strid, director of education technology at the College and a Vietnam-era veteran himself, said that such acknowledgements can be very important to veterans. “Many of us did not get the parades and acclimations that were common after World War II,” he commented. “A ‘thank you’ from the public, no matter how small at times, means a lot in helping to put their experience into proper perspective.”
The Gathering Place, located across the street from the MU campus, was built as a private residence. In 1936, the house was home to Lambda Chi Alpha, the first of four fraternities to live here. In the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, Edith Beary owned the house and divided it into eight apartments.
Shirley and Ross Duff purchased the property in 1994 and turned it into a B and B. Since the Duff family enjoyed having people over for parties, study groups, or just fun, the name “The Gathering Place” was chosen for this house.
In May 2008, the University of Missouri College of Ag Foundation, a private corporation, purchased the bed and breakfast and leased it to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.