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A Restored Retreat

A Restored Retreat

  • Photos by Lana Eklund
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Most Notable Historic Property City Of Columbia
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A home as historic as Columbia itself finds new life as a luxury vacation rental.

When you think of historic homes in Columbia, your mind might go to sections of West Broadway or Stewart and Rollins roads, or East Campus. But one of the oldest homes in Columbia is located at the southeast corner of the Crossroads intersection at Broadway and Stadium, just catty-corner to Andy’s Frozen Custard, on Briarwood Lane.

Heading east on Broadway just past Stadium, the white columns of the Colonial Revival at 100 W. Briarwood Lane can just be glimpsed to the right, at the back of a deep, winter-bare wooded lot. The estate is located on one of the largest lots in town, but it used to be well outside of city limits when it was built in the 1800s on the road out of town to Rocheport.

When he first purchased the home in 1981, Ed Brent lived at 100 Briarwood with his then-wife and children for many years. He now co-owns the estate with Yangmali Sahadev Rai, and renovated it in 2019. They rent the home out on Airbnb and VRBO and after returning it to its former glory revel in its long and storied past.

Juxtaposed just next door is an ultra-modern estate owned by Ed and Yang that is also available as a short-term rental. 

An Auspicious 19th Century Beginning

It is believed that the original home on this lot was built before 1850. It was just a small, two-room brick cabin, whose bricks were handmade and fired on-site. A Victorian-style frame house was built just 10 feet from the brick cabin around 1870.

In 1933, Alexander Richard Troxell (1893-1971) bought the property. Within a year, he married Jesse Williams (1894-1994). The pair was something of a power couple in Columbia at the time. Alexander earned three college degrees, including one from Yale University Law school, and had a prominent law office on the third floor of the Guitar Building downtown. He went on to serve in both World Wars and retired from the army as a colonel. And so, the estate was known for many years as the Troxell or Col. Troxell house.

Jesse was an equally impressive scholar, having earned three degrees herself, in arts, science, and journalism. She worked for the Boonville Advertiser during World War I, and it’s speculated that her choice of journalism as a career may have been influenced by her uncle, Walter Williams, the founding dean of the MU School of Journalism. The couple also owned the local telephone company until they sold it to General Telephone. Both Troxells are buried in the Columbia Cemetery.

The Troxell Era Gives Way to Modern Luxury

The Troxells merged the two-room brick cabin and the frame house, but a fire destroyed the frame house in 1938. The home had been fashionably appointed with dark walnut furniture and woodwork, which neighbors helped save from the fire by prying the woodwork off with crowbars. The wood panels can still be found in the original two-room cabin today. 

“In 1830, walnut was an easily available building material, so they used it to build the house,” Yang says about the antique woodwork. 

After the fire, Alexander hired local architect Henry Satterly Bill to design a house similar to the Victorian-style frame house that was destroyed. During demolition, an attempt was made to bring down the brick cabin, but it didn’t budge, so it was incorporated into the new house as a long living room and features a fireplace at each end. It remains today, at the back of the house. The room is sophisticated-cozy with leather and linen furnishings, and a large, black lantern hanging in the center, while the salvaged walnut fireplace mantles, chair rails, and window frames add warmth all around. An antique walnut door at one end leads to a spacious screened-in porch with views of the wooded acreage. 

“My favorite part of the house is [this] great room,” Ed says. “Because this is the whole original house and we have managed to restore it to its original form.” 

Tons of Historic Charm

The enormous brick home’s six white pillars welcome guests to linger on the stately front patio before entering the front door into the foyer, where the historic charm is on full display. Directly to the right is the entrance to the parlor, and to the left is the entrance to a long dining room and kitchen. A set of stairs with an original banister and rails on the right side of the foyer winds up to the second story through a curved opening in the ceiling that is still trimmed with original molding.

An original 1930s papier maché light fixture medallion adorns the ceiling here, and in several places throughout the home. A large lantern hangs over the stairs to match the one in the great room at the back of the house. Straight ahead, a tall, arched doorway leads down a hallway to the great room. The parlor today serves as another living space, which is furnished in understated neutrals, including a sleeper sofa for guests. The crown jewel of the parlor is the marble fireplace, the mantle of which was salvaged from a demolished Boonville home.

The kitchen is timeless in all-white with stainless steel appliances. Ed and Yang tore down the wall that separated the dining room and kitchen, which had made the kitchen an extremely small galley style. What had once been the front of the kitchen is now an island with bar seating on the dining room side. The dining room boasts a long, narrow table that seats up to eight. The space is bathed in ample natural light from the home’s many windows.

“My favorite part of the house is the renovated open-plan kitchen and dining area because it allows families to stay together during meals,” Yang says. “And of course, I love cooking and it’s got a spacious modern kitchen.” 

The upstairs houses four spacious bedrooms with dark walnut bedframes. With the sleeper sofa in the parlor, the Airbnb property sleeps 12, with lots of room to spread out. The backyard offers a magical respite with its enormous brick terraced patio that leads out to a charming pergola with inviting white curtains and lights.

It’s not just an enticing place to sit outside on a beautiful day — it has also been a popular wedding spot, especially during Covid-19. The photo gallery on the Airbnb listing includes pictures of a few weddings; not only is the outside perfect for getting hitched, but the staircase in the foyer gives the bride a chance to descend the stairs like royalty.

Ed and Yang relied on the expertise of contractor Stephen Ketchum of Ketchum-Up Services for the renovation, Studio Home for interior design, and Korte Tree Care for cleaning up brush and tackling the massive project of thinning the trees in the front yard. 

If you need a short-term rental for a special occasion or a stay-cation, Ed and Yang are Airbnb superhosts who make a point of meeting each of their renters and doing what they can to personalize their stay. A one-night stay runs from $800 to $1,200 per night for the entire luxury home. 

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