Castle House’s Last Day

A friend sent me a message that I should take a look at the “Castle House” at 2404 Kingsway Drive, just south of St. Andrews Lutheran Church. It looked like it was about to be torn down.

She was right. Don Watkins, who was doing salvage work inside the house Monday, is removing the house number for Paula Pletcher, whose family lived there once.

Looking for memories

On the day before it was due to be razed, there were very few items left for former residents to take as souvenirs. Narvol Randol removed a couple of cabinet doors from a closet in the room he grew up in.

Narvol had already left when I looked down close to the floor vent in his room where the cover had been removed. Behind it was a collection of pencils and other small objects that kids must have stuck through the grate over the years.

Beautiful tile

I told Paula that the one thing left in the house that really impressed me was the beautiful tropic-themed tile in an upstairs bathroom, “but you’d better come back with a hammer and a chisel if you want to get any. Tomorrow it’s going to be dust.”

As it turned out, we ran into Dan downstairs holding a prybar. I mentioned that Paula would REALLY like some of that tile.

“I can do you one better. Follow me to the garage. There’s some spare tile on a shelf out there.” True to his word, Paula went home with several large pieces of tile and a handful of the decorative horizontal pieces.

Artifacts discovered

Dan discovered these artifacts from bygone days. They include red and green sales tax mills, a Wheat Penny, and an American Junior Red Cross pin.

By the way, you can click on the photos to make them larger. You’ll have to go down to the gallery to see them all.

St. Andrews wanted a parking lot

Ostensibly, the reason the house is being razed is that pipes burst in the basement, and the combination of moisture and no HVAC system caused black mold to grow. Fixing that and dealing with asbestos was going to cost more than the house was worth.

In my humble opinion, the real reason for the house’s demise was that the church had been eying that spot for a parking lot for many years.

I didn’t go into the basement, but I had a good look behind the walls where the plaster had been torn away, and saw that the bones of the building were solid. The shingles on the roof looked relatively new and in good shape.

Knob and Tube Wiring

If your house was built between 1880 and through the ’50s (even up to the ’70s in some places), then you might find this kind of wiring hiding in the walls. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but there are drawbacks today.

A squishy memory

When I was in kindergarten and the first grade, we lived in a trailer on top of a hill that has long been leveled just south of the Colonial Tavern. I had a dog, Cookie, a a black and white mixed-breed terrier.

Cookie got away one day, breaking my young heart. My squishy memory is that Cookie ended up at the Castle House, maybe back when the Windisch family lived there.

Cookie was returned to me, and I have a squishier even memory that we might have given the family one of her pups at one time. This is one of those many time I wish Mother was still around to unsquish my memory.

Unique design

This, like the Boat House, was one of the iconic buildings in Cape. A Facebook friend posted a video this morning of the classic turret on the right side of the house being crunched by heavy equipment.

This just goes to prove that the two most dangerous places for a landmark building to live are next to the university or a church.

Gallery of Castle House photos

Click on any image to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

8 Replies to “Castle House’s Last Day”

  1. The Young Family lived there from 1968 to 1977. Myself, sister Sarah and brother Larry stopped by today to gather a souvenir stone from the tower. It was difficult to see it torn down. So many memories from an iconic structure in Cape Girardeau.

    -Bryan Young

  2. For a few years I rented the white building that sat to the left of the castle house from Saint Andrews. It was called the “After School Kid’s Club.” It was one of the first after school programs in Cape. It too now is a parking lot. I remember that the owner of the Castle house did not want to sell to the church but somehow it came to pass that they ended up in possession of it.

    1. I was told that it was sold to a young couple with the promise they wouldn’t sell to the church, because that would make it destined to become a parking lot. Unfortunately, it was apparently a verbal agreement, and you know they aren’t worth the paper they’re [not] written on.

      I had forgotten the kid’s club building. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. That turret housed the bedroom of my girl friend when I was a Junior at Central, Margaret Randol. I had many fantasies about dimbing that wall like a Disney cartoon but the rest wasn’t Disney-like. Of well. Opportunities squandered!

  4. One of the first things I learned as a student of historic preservation was who the most notorious culprits were of destroying historic structures: churches and schools ( I would also include Walmart in that list). It’s terrible to see such an iconic Cape landmark destroyed for something so uninspiring as a parking lot.

  5. One of the families that lived in the “Castle House” was that of friend, classmate through Franklin and Central days [we grad. 53], and fellow Sea Scout, Ray Duncan..who became an MD [Anesthesiology] in Fort Worth. Last saw him at one of our 50’s reunions many years ago.

  6. During my four years @ SEMO back in the 1980’s, I remember going on a date with a gentleman from the area. We took a drive on his motorcycle by the Castle House. I thought it would have been fun living in such a structure. Too bad it met its demise. I no longer live in the area but do make it back from time to time. I am in agreement with others that there will be a parking lot where the house stood. Thanks for the memories!

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