By PAUL MOSSINE
Between its churches, modern hospitals, historic roads and Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired houses, the East Campus neighborhood has a stunning array of architecture and design. And as long-time resident Paul Wallace can tell you, these structures are a source of individuality and pride.
Wallace, a professor emeritus of political science at MU, has his own gem in his backyard — East Campus’ only suspension bridge.
The 20-foot bridge, originally built by MU engineering students for a national competition six years ago, was bought at auction by Wallace and his wife, Robin. It now serves as the centerpiece of their dynamic backyard.
“They used nothing but the finest wood and materials in its construction,” said Wallace, who happily describes it as a “small bridge across a small stream.”
The bridge stayed disassembled for five years before the Wallaces had it put together over a stream that goes underneath University Avenue.
“Last summer when we had it put up, we had a big bridge party,” Wallace said. “We had 60 or 70 people, and everybody went across it either singly, as a couple or as a family. Everybody had a glass of champagne, and we took pictures of each of them, so now we have a wonderful memento of the bridge party.”
Last year’s party was Aug. 22, and the Wallaces said they intend on having another bridge party again this year in August.
The Wallace family yard also features a Peace Pole on which “peace” is painted in 40 different languages. Wallace said there are four of these poles in Columbia on the north, east, south and west sides of town and that theirs represents the east.
The suspension bridge is placed so that upon crossing it, one arrives at the peace pole.
The yard also contains three memorial trees dedicated to various family and friends of the Wallaces who have passed away. Wallace said part of the reason for the August date for the party was that a friend who has a tree planted for her husband visits during that month.
Besides serving as yet another reason to host a party in East Campus, Wallace said he appreciates the bridge for its beauty and function on his land.
“Not many houses have a bridge,” he said. “It’s a real suspension bridge. It’s just beautiful, and there’s a whole park behind it. We’re six blocks from campus and we’re living right in the woods — with a bridge!”