Lot splits are among the more common functions of city government, and people legally divide a parcel of land for all sorts of reasons, sometimes because they want to sell it, sometimes to make way for an easement or right-of-way.
But officials this week approved what is probably one of the more unusual lot splits ever to work its way through City Hall — the severing from an adjoining parking lot of a roughly 8-foot-square rectangle of land containing some overgrown shrubs and a large rock.
The postage stamp of real estate near the intersection of Buchanan and Second streets also embraces 168 years of Maryville History.
When nearby Nodaway Valley Bank recently completed a new motor bank it vacated its old drive-through a block to the south. The abandoned facility sat to one side of a bank-owned parking lot that is also decorated with a huge boulder marking the location of the first house ever built in Maryville.
The rock, flanked by a pair of columns from the portico of Maryville's old Carnegie Library, carries a metal plaque reading "On This Ground Was Built the First House in Maryville 1844, Erected by the Citizens on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Missouri, 1921."
Bank officials reportedly plan to sell the parking lot, but in doing so they didn't want to risk the loss of an interesting bit of city history — a monument to both the old library, which stood in the same block, and to Caleb Burns, a noted Nodaway County pioneer whose log cabin door once swung, likely on leather hinges, approximately where the rock now sits.
So NVB asked the city for the unusual lot split with the intention of donating the tiny parcel to the Nodaway County Historical Society.
Society volunteer Melissa Middleswart said the group has accepted the gift and provided the Daily Forum with an old news clipping describing a dedication for the first-house monument that took place on Sept. 7, 1921, in celebration of 100 years of Missouri statehood.
It turns out that the rock, which reportedly weighs 2,500 pounds, was brought to Maryville from Pickering where it was carried on a horse-drawn wagon during a parade staged by the local Democratic party. The boulder may have been meant as a pun on the name of William J. Stone, who was running for governor, and who spoke at a barbecue following the parade.
After the celebration, the Pickering delegation decided the rock was too heavy to haul back to Pickering and left it on the lawn of Judge W.C. Ellison on West Second Street, where it remained for years until being moved to its present location.
Back in 1921, the address dedicating the first-house monument was delivered by Fred Keller, a teacher at what was then Northwest Missouri State Teachers College. The boulder, covered with a U.S. flag, was unveiled by Graham and Mary Donna Malotte, the great-grandchildren of Mary House Graham, the woman for whom Maryville was named in 1846 — two years after Caleb Burns built his log cabin.