March 22, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the official adoption of the Missouri flag which was designed in Cape Girardeau by Mrs. Marie Watkins Oliver. The State Historical Society of Missouri, the Missouri Conference on History, Southeast Missouri State University, the Center for Regional History, and Drs. Bert and Mary Ann Kellerman are sponsoring the Missouri Flag Centennial Celebration. Mrs. Oliver, the wife of State Senator R.B. Oliver designed the flag 100 years ago at her home at 740 North Street in Cape Girardeau. The house has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980 as the Oliver-Leming House. The house is a design of prominent St. Louis architect J.B. Legg who also planned Academic Hall, two other Southeast Missouri State University campus buildings, and several Missouri courthouses, among a host of other notable structures in Cape and throughout Missouri. The home’s construction began in 1895.
In commemoration of this significant event, the State Historical Society of Missouri, the Missouri Conference on History, Southeast Missouri State University, the Center for Regional History, and Drs. Bert and Mary Ann Kellerman are collaborating to preserve our local and regional heritage, showcased in a three-day celebration. The Kellermans bought the house in 2002 and began restoration in 2010. Both have served on the state board of Missouri Preservation (formerly known as the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation), and believe the importance of the 100th anniversary to take place in Cape Girardeau is momentous because of the fact that the flag was created locally, as well as the historical perspective and stature that the home itself and the families who have lived there represent to the city and the state.
The three-day event commences on March 21, with the Missouri Conference on History, headed by Dr. Joel Rhodes of Southeast’s History Department faculty, it is anticipated that 120 or so Missouri historians will attend. In addition, a scheduled meeting of the State Historical Society Board of Trustees will be held in Cape Girardeau on the same dates, and will include another 20 to 25 attendees. U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, who is a SHS board member, will be the principal speaker at the annual dinner of the Conference on Thursday evening. The events conclude on March 23 with public tours of The Flag House. The original flag that first flew over the Missouri State Capital will be available for viewing. The Flag Centennial Program also is open to the public is scheduled for 1:30-2:30 P.M. on Friday, March 22, 2013 with speeches and presentations by dignitaries and special guests, in front of the Flag House at 740 North Street. In addition, a Regional History Fair is to be held at Centenary United Methodist Church’s Family Life Center immediately following the Centennial Ceremony. In case of rain, the Flag Centennial Program will be moved to Centenary’s Family Life Center. A comfort station will be available at the Centenary Fellowship hall. Parking will be available in the Centenary Methodist Church parking lot and the University’s lot on the corner of Pacific and North Street.