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Saturday, December 7, 2013 COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE www.columbiatribune.com 3

‘Gingerbread house’ to remain vacation rental

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olumbia’s famous “gingerbread house” is in new hands. Sean and Leigh Spence last month purchased Creekstone Cottage, which still contains the tworoom log cabin built just west of the city limits in 1911. With the current exterior built around the original cabin in the 1930s, the cottage has occupied the same spot as the city has grown up around it, now sitting at the busy intersection of West Ash Street and West Boulevard. For many Columbian natives, including Leigh Spence, the quaint cottage has always been a local landmark. She “was born in Columbia and spent her childhood here, and she’s been fascinated by that house since she was a baby,” husband Sean Spence said. Officially, it became known as Creekstone Cottage about two years ago, when Kristin Bourgeois and Adam Kaiser bought it and turned it into a vacation rental property. But many of the names people applied to the three-bedroom house during the more than 50 years that Herb and Betty Brown lived there still remain. Some call it the gingerbread house, others the Hansel and Gretel house or

the three bears house. Sean Spence’s stepson, Clark, referred to it as “the seven dwarves house” as a child. Although those names might always remain, the house won’t be turning back into a full-time residence. Spence said he and his wife plan to keep the same business model as the prior owners, renting it out to Columbia visitors throughout the year. Plenty of visiting professors, executives and people with family members who need medical care come through town, he said, providing a steady stream of potential customers. “Our hope is in any given year we’ll rent it to just five or six people,” Sean Spence said. In 2004, the house was put on the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission’s list of notable historic properties. After Herb Brown died in 2010, three years after his wife, the house

sat empty for more than a year until Bourgeois and Kaiser bought it. Sean Spence said when he and his wife heard it was going to go on the market again, they jumped on it. “We had a mutual friend who let us know that it was about to go up for sale, so we made contact before it was even officially up for sale,” he said. “We bought it before the sign even went up in the yard.” The Spences were looking for a rental property, but Sean Spence admitted the house means more than just rental income. “It’s one of the two or three most famous houses in town, so for people who really value Columbia, the house has a real special value,” he said.

dinner train changes hands

The Columbia Star Dinner Train is under new ownership. The train, which takes passengers between Columbia and Centralia on the city-owned COLT Railroad line, announced on its website that it was recently purchased by Train Travel Inc., owned by B. Allen Brown. The dinner train has been running in Columbia since the summer of 2011, giving passengers a scenic ride

with dinner or brunch. For more than two years, Mark Vaughn of Iowa operated the Columbia Star Dinner Train, riding the rails between Columbia and Centralia and operating out of a city facility at 6501 Brown Station Road. The new owner, Train Travel Inc., says it operated its first dinner train, The Star Clipper, in 1984 in Osage, Iowa. It later operated dinner trains in Michigan, Rhode Island, Texas and Florida. “With Train Travel’s group tour industry contacts, time proven train theme programming and its Pullman Palace Bed & Breakfast concept, our company is looking to double ridership and the number of trains we operate and expand the Columbia train’s demographics in 2014,” the company said on its website. The Columbia City Council at a recent meeting approved transferring the existing dinner train contract to the new owners.

slice and a scoop

It might be too much CoMo at one time: Sparky’s and Shakespeare’s, in the same room, on sale together. That’s right: The next time you grab

a slice at Shakespeare’s Pizza, you can polish it off with some Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream on the way out. No need to walk up Ninth Street for ice cream if you’re downtown, and no need to come downtown if you’re really craving some of Columbia’s most famous ice cream near another Shakespeare’s location. Sparky’s announced yesterday on its Facebook page it is now selling from freezers at all three Shakespeare’s locations: Ninth Street, West Broadway and Peachtree Drive. “We think it’s maybe kind of the best match ever,” Sparky’s wrote in its announcement. Sparky’s owner Scott Southwick said the company started selling the pre-scooped ice cream cups at the Shakespeare’s locations about 10 days ago. The arrangement seems to be pretty popular, so “as far as we know, it’s permanent,” he said. There are seven flavors on sale at Shakespeare’s, including an “exclusive Shakespeare’s flavor,” he said: “chocolate, chocolate chunk.” Jacob Barker is the Tribune’s business reporter. Reach him at 573-815-1722 or jbarker@columbiatribune.com.

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