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Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.


Gravel Hill Methodist Church

Gravel Hill Methodist Church 10-25-2015A search for fall colors took me past a neat, well-kept white frame church at the corner of Highway 34 and Route U near the Cape – Bollinger county line close to Crump.There was nothing really spectacular about it, but my rule of thumb is that if it catches my attention, then it deserves at least a couple frames. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

There was a  fairly modern sign post out front that proclaimed it was New McKendree at Lake Girardeau. There was space below the name for a message, but it was left empty.

Renee Gordon

Renee Gordon at Gravel Hill Methodist Church 10-25-2015I was just about to pull out of the parking lot when a woman walked by. I gave her a wave, which she returned. When she unlocked the door, I asked if I could take a look inside.

It turned out the woman was Renee Gordon, who was hoping to close on the building this week. She plans to turn it into an art studio, gallery and school of the arts.

The church has changed names several times over the years, having been known as the Gravel Hill Methodist Church for a long time. She thought the building might be as much as 125 years old, but I found a 1997 Missourian story about Cape county churches that said  the fieldstone foundation made it look like it might have been built in the 1930s. In 1997, the church still had an outhouse. It has a modern kitchen and bathrooms today.

Great space for a studio

Gravel Hill Methodist Church 10-25-2015I expected to see a dimly-lit, rundown auditorium with rows of dark pews lining the room, but Renee said what you see is essentially what the church left – open space with nice lighting and beautiful floors. It also still has the bell in the tower, and a rope hangs down in the lobby / kitchen area if you are moved to ring it (I didn’t want to ask).

A scan of the Missourian’s archive turned up lots of funeral services, potluck dinners, homecoming affairs and other typical happenings of a small rural church.

One story DID catch my eye: in 1927 a man (I don’t think it’s necessary to name him after all these years) was given a fine of $20 and 15 days in jail for disturbing religious worship at the Gravel Hill Methodist church, “but he was paroled as to the jail sentence pending good behavior.”

9 comments to Gravel Hill Methodist Church

  • Teresa Faires Winning

    Beautiful little church, good for Renee for saving it! I just love the picture she is painting. Thanks Ken for finding this little gem and sharing it with the world.

  • Virginia Kerr West

    What a surprise, the inside looks great! That has been taken good care of! That will make a wonderful art studio!

  • Carole Kinder

    Isn’t it interesting when you see beautiful buildings like this – more towns don’t try to preserve them. Then I’m also wondering – did some of my ancestors go to that church !!

  • Sondra Cotner Cook

    My great-grandparents attended Gravel Hill Methodist Church back before the current church was built. Thanks for sharing.

  • Frances Cutright

    I grew up in this church. So happy to see it being put to good use. That was some 60 years ago.

  • JAYNE HOLLENSBE

    My relatives lived in the the Gravel Hill area and one of our family cemeteries is the Gravel Hill Cemetery. My uncle that just passed was born in Gravel Hill.

  • Jeanice Baker

    I attended this lovely little church with a wonderful group of people who were heart broken when it was closed in July,2015.

  • Larry Points

    If you want to see a Gravel Hill cemetery as photogenic as the church, turn right on the gravel road just prior to the bridge (heading west on Highway 34)and drive a couple of miles. The last house on the right before the bridge was owned by my Aunt Bessie Thomas. Her daughter, Mary Lou, went to the one room school house directly across the highway from the church (now a private home), and then actually taught there for a year before the consolidated grade school was built in Burfordville. I spent many a happy childhood hour splashing around in Dillard’s Creek.

  • oz edwar

    I just saw the pics And related story.Renee was buying the church from New Mckendree Methodist Church in Jackson.It seems they poured a lot of money into the bldg.and grounds hoping to re-establish the church.After nearly 2 yrs it was found to be a huge liability and a drain on finances.They could not make it work with such small attd.

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