2013 Endangered Buildings List Announced by Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission

On May 21, the Historic Preservation Commission announced its list of the most endangered buildings located in Cape Girardeau.

The Commission has compiled an Endangered Buildings List that identifies buildings and structures that are potentially “at risk” of being lost due to substantial physical deterioration or other conditions that prevent them from being used in a sustainable manner.

The Historic Preservation Commission was established in 1990 and was granted a number of powers and duties, including the responsibility “to increase public awareness of the value of historic, architectural and cultural preservation by developing and participating in public information programs and by recommending the update of the preservation program.”

For more information about the Historic Preservation Commission and the Endangered Buildings List, visit cityofcape.org/hpc or call the City of Cape Girardeau Development Services Division at 573-339-6327.

The following buildings are on the 2013 Endangered Buildings List.

Broadway Theater – 805 Broadway

In its heyday, the Broadway Theater was associated with both Twentieth-Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. It originally opened with a showing of the motion picture The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino. It was first-rate, with state-of-the-art equipment, an orchestra pit, stage facilities, and a grand marquee. The main floor and the balcony had a total seating capacity for 1,200 persons. Today, the 1921 theatre stands vacant, and the marquee is long gone. The building has not had a viable use for several years, and is showing signs of deterioration.
Esquire Theater 10-12-11 marquee

Esquire Theater – 824 Broadway

On its opening night of January 21, 1947, over 1,300 movie goers flocked to this modernistic movie theater to watch Bing Crosby in Blue Skies. Featuring an Art Deco design (with over one mile of neon lights), the theater quickly became a landmark to many locals. The Esquire Theater’s doors closed in October 1984, as the last of the grand neighborhood movie houses in Cape Girardeau. The theater was re-opened briefly for second-run movies, but by the end of 1985 it was again vacant. The building, including the marquee, has been damaged over the years. The theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Fort D (3) wpFort D Blockhouse – 920 Fort Street

The block building located on the Fort D Historic Site was built by the Works Progress Administration around 1936. It was used as a meeting house for various groups and also as a private residence, but by the mid-1980s the building stood vacant. In 2005, the deteriorated roof was removed and major stabilization improvements were made. Today, the building is used annually as part of Civil War living history demonstrations by the Friends of Fort D. Aside from such events the building is rarely used and shows signs of disrepair. The Cape Girardeau City Council recently approved funding to repair the blockhouse, including construction of a new roof.  At the time of release of this list, work had not yet commenced.

Kage School – 3110 Kage Road

Opened in 1880, this one-room brick schoolhouse once housed classes for as many as 110 students.  It was used as a school until 1966. The building exhibits characteristics typical of Missouri-based German architecture. Over the years, the vacant building has suffered significant damage to the walls, chimney, and windows. The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

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Lorimier Apartments – 150 South Lorimier Street

This two-story brick apartment building was built in 1925 and features a U-shaped floor plan with a courtyard. The building features wood doors and eight-over-one wood windows in each bay. The building is no longer occupied, and many of the doors and windows have been boarded over.  The apartment building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

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P. H. Dempsey Buildings – 127 North Water Street

The buildings at 127 North Water Street consist of three attached, one-part and two-part brick commercial block buildings that once housed P.H. Dempsey’s wholesale and retail grocery business. Built ca. 1870 and ca. 1896, these buildings were used as a grocery, commissary, and forwarding business by Mr. Dempsey. The store occupied the central building, with warehouses in the other two buildings. Their intact architectural elements represent a type of construction from the steamboat era. They are among the last standing 19th century one-part and two-part brick commercial block buildings in Cape Girardeau. “Dempsey Grocery Co.” can still be seen painted in white on the side of the central building. A restaurant and bar occupied the buildings in recent years. Today, they are vacant and lacking a viable use.

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Sturdivant Bank – 101 North Main Street

Built in the mid-to-late 1800s, this multi-story brick storefront building was originally owned by banker Robert Sturdivant. The bank occupied the ground floor, with other offices on the upper floors. One of the offices on the second floor housed Cape Girardeau’s first telephone company and switchboard in 1896. The bank closed in 1932 during the Great Depression. Thereafter, the building was occupied by various retailers until the City condemned it in late 2011 due to structural failures. At the time of release of this list, the owner had begun to make repairs to the building. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

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Woolworth’s Store – 1 North Main Street

The building at 1 North Main Street is the end cap of a block of storefront buildings in the downtown district. The building has changed looks and owners many times over the years. The building gained historic significance in 1914, when F.W. Woolworth’s original store was opened.  In 1950, the store expanded and when it was completed, the building extended the width of the entire block and had openings on Main, Spanish and Independence Streets. This expansion reflected a surge in commercial shopping activity in the downtown district. The building is now vacant and deteriorating, with no apparent plans for its future.

635 Good Hope Street wp

635 Good Hope Street

This building, dating back to 1884, served as a German saloon from the 1880s through the 1910s, and it was one of the first saloons in Cape Girardeau to cease liquor sales during the Prohibition era. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, it functioned as a gathering place for community discussion, much as it had when it was a saloon. It eventually became the official meeting site of the local German American Alliance as well as several local unions related to the construction industry in Cape Girardeau. The saloon itself was owned by Anton and Joe Haas, two important figures in the development of Cape Girardeau. The brothers were involved in the construction of the old Saint Francis Hospital and Saint Mary’s School, among others. In addition, Anton’s concrete company was responsible for the pouring of the courthouse steps – one of the earliest uses of concrete in Cape Girardeau. The building appears to have major stability issues. The side doorway leading to the second floor is crooked in its frame, most likely due to structural failure that is causing the building to lean to the west. Many of the buildings on this block are commercial buildings from the same era, and most if not all of them are facing the same structural issues. If these buildings are not rehabilitated in the near future, they will likely remain empty, leading to further deterioration.

15 South Frederick Street

This one-and-a-half story Missouri German Vernacular house (ca. 1882) has a side gable with a center front gable wall dormer, emulating Queen Ann fishscale shingles, and a symmetrical façade containing two front doors with transoms, flanked by pairs of two-over-two vertical light double hung windows. It has been vacant and neglected for many years, leading to substantial deterioration and vagrancy. According to City officials, the owner plans to demolish the house.

127 South Lorimier Street (2) wp

127 South Lorimier Street

The brick house at 127 South Lorimier Street reflects the Missouri German Vernacular style, which was once prevalent in Cape Girardeau. It is unique in that it features two stories; most houses of this style are one story. The house has historic significance because only a few examples of the Missouri German Vernacular are still standing. It is currently vacant and showing signs of increasing deterioration.