Belle MFA building relocated to “forever home”

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 11/17/21

BELLE — Alvarado Avenue, Belle Avenue and Fourth Street were closed between 9:30 and 10 a.m. on Nov. 10 to move the former Belle MFA building to its new address at 309 Highway 28 East, where …

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Belle MFA building relocated to “forever home”

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BELLE — Alvarado Avenue, Belle Avenue and Fourth Street were closed between 9:30 and 10 a.m. on Nov. 10 to move the former Belle MFA building to its new address at 309 Highway 28 East, where the Buehrlen Service Station was located.

“It’s nearly to its new home,” said Jimmy Zumwalt, the building’s owner. “We are looking at history in the making! From this day forward, when you drive into Belle it’s going to look different.”

Zumwalt said they will pour concrete under it and set the building in place hopefully by the end of the year.

“We will try to remodel it and do it to time-period as much as we can,” Zumwalt said.

The building will be used as office space for Zumwalt’s business, Mid-State Pipeline. A conference room is also in the renovation plans. There was talk of adding grain silos to each end of the building and converting them into offices, turning the airy open ceiling into a two-story floor plan, as well as transforming the grain elevator tower into a reading room for children.

“We will put it back to what it was before,” he said. “It will still look like the feed mill like it did before, just in a different spot.”

Howard House Moving in Dora, Mo., came to Belle on Nov. 3 and began the process of raising the building onto metal beams. Owner Ronnie Howard said he has been in the house relocating business for 48 years. The biggest challenge with moving this building was the old thick concrete foundation. The MFA building was the tallest structure he has ever moved.

“The building measures at 79 feet (tall) but loaded up we are at 42 feet,” Howard said while onsite. “We didn’t want to be on unlevel ground. It’s only 20 feet wide so we are twice as tall as we are wide.”

Ameren Missouri came in early Wednesday morning to take down the powerlines between Alvarado Avenue, Belle Avenue and Fourth Street.

“Now all they’ve gotta do is come and put them back up,” Howard said. “It was pretty simple, one guide cable and one straight live wire.”

The building was set and Howard House Moving was gone by early afternoon.

Belle officials pushed to have the Buehrlen Station demolished in 2019. The owner, Darrell Buehrlen, sold the station and property to Zumwalt who determined it couldn’t be fixed and tore it down himself.

Aldermen voted Aug. 11, 2020, to tear down the MFA building and sent out a request for bids. Zumwalt responded to the bid in September 2020, requesting instead to purchase the building and have it relocated, then clean up the foundation after.

“They was gonna tear it down and we really hated to see it tore down,” Zumwalt said Wednesday when asked what inspired him to move the building. “You drive through all of these small towns and all you see is tear down, tear down and nobody ever builds back. We decided instead of letting the city tear it down, to work with them and restore it.”

Deconstruction to the Belle MFA building began March 16 in preparation for moving the original section of the structure.

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