Cape Girardeau’s History: 9 Must-See Local Sites

Did you know that the City of Cape Girardeau has nine historic sites to see? These sites include the Red House Interpretive Center, Lorimier Cemetery, Fort D, Old St. Vincent’s Church, Cape River Heritage Museum, Crisp Museum, the Glenn House, Trail of Tears State Park and Bollinger Mill State Historic Site.

The Red House Interpretive Center is a French Colonial-style house built for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration in Cape Girardeau. Come step back into the early 1800s at this museum depicting Louis Lorimier’s Trading Post and home life, and the visit to Cape Girardeau of Lewis and Clark’s westward expedition. The Red House is open on Saturdays, from March through December.

The Old Lorimier Cemetery, 500 N. Fountain St., is Cape Girardeau’s first graveyard, which was began in 1808 by Cape Girardeau founding father Louis Lorimier. More than 6,500 people are believed to be buried in Old Lorimier Cemetery, including more than 1,200 Civil War soldiers. Many Cape Girardeau area settlers and persons who built and shaped our community were laid to rest in Old Lorimier Cemetery. Many tombstone inscriptions are in English, Latin, German and French. Additional interesting details make this historic cemetery quite interesting – read more here on the City’s website about this important resting place for many of Cape Girardeau’s founders.

Fort D is the only remaining of four forts that protected the Cape Girardeau during the Civil War. Period re-enactments are hosted at Fort D on a regular basis. On July 4, join the Turner Brigade for a re-enactment in celebration of our country’s birthday. Soldiers  will celebrate the special holiday by firing rifles and cannons, eating a special meal with friends and civilians, and flags flying proudly. Come share a patriotic day! The event is absolutely free to the public.Im002293

Old St. Vincent’s Church was built in 1853 and is still standing today on Main Street downtown Cape Girardeau. Fr. John Mary Odin dedicated the parish under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul in 1836 when the original church was built but then was later destroyed by a tornado.


The Cape River Heritage Museum is a historic building that focuses on local history. The building is an old fire house that has served as a museum since 1981. The Cape River Heritage Museum offers educational events, tours and much more. Current exhibits include Cape Girardeau: Development of a River City, Music on the River, Marie Oliver and the Missouri State Flag, steamboat, police and fire department memorabilia, and much more.

The Crisp Museum is located in the Cultural Arts Center at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus. Located in this museum is the Crossroads Theater and an art gallery that features works by local, regional, national and international artipic_glenn_house_smallsts.

The Glenn House is a restored home turned historic museum. It was built in 1883, and was where the Glenn family lived until 1915. It is open seasonally, allowing citizens to experience and see what the Victorian period was like.

Trail of Tears State Park is dedicated to telling the stories of nine of the 13 Cherokee Indian groups being relocated to Oklahoma during the 1830s. During harsh winter conditions, the groups crossed the Mississippi River near the area. Beyond learning about a tragic point in our history, the park also offers shaded picnic sites, hiking and horse trails, and opportunities to fish in both the Mississippi River and Lake Boutin.

Dscn0036Bollinger Mill State Historic Site consists of a 19th century water-powered mill that was originally constructed by George Frederick Bollinger and family in 1800. The mill was donated to the state in 1967 and has since served as a historic site. Here they provide live demonstrations of making stone-ground cornmeal, examples of milling machinery, museum exhibits and much more.