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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.


“Hope House” on Hwy 74

"Hope House" Hwy 74 09-23-2014When I was a kid on our way to Advance, we’d always keep an eye on a house being built on Hwy 74 just west of what is now I-55. (I-55 wasn’t even a gleam in Dwight Eisenhower’s eye back in those days.)

The builder got the basement finished, put tar on the “floor” of the house to make it a roof, and got no further. I’m pretty sure someone lived in it because I vaguely remember smoke coming out of the chimney.

I think there was a church that took that approach on Independence, William or Bloomfield Road. I know of a couple of houses in Cape that did that, too, but I can’t place where they were.

Called a “hope house”

"Hope House" Hwy 74 09-23-2014When I Googled “living in basement until house is built,” quite a few hits came up. The practice of doing this was common enough, I found, that it had a name: it was called a “hope house.”

Modern day building codes and permits would make this hard to do today, someone pointed out, because they call for firm start and end dates. A construction project that went on for five or 10 years might not get approved.

When I slowed down to make the turn down the lane to the house, Mother said, “I figured you were going to do that.”

The basement walls look like they are in pretty good shape, and I could see that interior walls of concrete block had been roughed in. Several windows at ground level would have let in light. Unfortunately, the old tarred floor had deteriorated to the point that it was letting in more light than the windows.

In the end, there was more hope than house left. I wonder what happened to the owner.

5 comments to “Hope House” on Hwy 74

  • Terry Hopkins

    There used to be one of these on off of West End Blvd.( north of Mississippi street) on Scott Street the southeast corner. I finally got to finish it after I left cape, but the 1950’s the Nance Family lived in the home. So the “Hope Houses” were around. Hope springs eternal!

  • Elroy F. Kinder

    Location close to my “growing up” neighborhood (s)…Marquette School, Camp Cape, our home site the Heuer Sons Implement dealer today. This land with basement is owned by the Walter Adams family…Walter deceased I’m pretty sure. His home with family was across the Sprigg street from the Viaduct Court…a very nice home, set on a flat top limestone outcropping with nice steps and walk leading to it from the street. The Adams may have owned the Viaduct Court and the Gateway building at one time and some of the area where Cape Stone Company is now located. Their property extended on 74 all the way to what was once the Potashnick site, that during WW II was a training airport for Army Air Corps pilots. Fields on both sides are excellent for corn and soybeans…now with an excellent crop of corn extending on the south to the railroad tracks. I’m thinking that Walter Adams may have built the basement, with a future house in mind however,after I-55 and off and on ramps took many acres and the Viaduct Court closed etc. plans most likely changed. Also the land is in the flood plain so a basement is not a great idea. Water backs up in the Williams Creek and from the Diversion Channel during Mississippi River flood levels so ground water would be a problem. Son, Bob Adams and family live north off 74, driveway about 500 west on 74 with access through the corn or (?) field. Location is in the woods but can be seen from 74. Bob does not farm the land and has it rented I’m sure. Prime land, prime location. Basement details not known by me, not even sure Bob still owns the land.

  • Elroy F. Kinder

    As for the “hope houses,” about the “hope church” you can check my Facebook post on “Old houses and abandoned buildings” to read details about the Foursquare Church on Bloomfield and Park Streets, basement in 1944, upper structure in 1959, now sold to another congregation in the 1990’s.

  • Jean Looney Lanham

    I grew up next to a basement in Advance and it has puzzled me all these years. It would have been such a nice house, but it was an even better play house. All the kids in our neighborhood would run up and down stairs and claim territory and chase each other and throw rocks. The house was never completed. Someone eventually bought the lot and built their own modern house.
    That block even had a sidewalk and a tree that smelled divine when in bloom.
    Thanks for another good memory.

  • Margi Whitright

    My aunt and uncle lived in a basement house in Jackson in the early 1950s. It was great fun to play around it but I don’t remember ever going on the “roof.” As I remember, it was a nice house inside and stayed cool in the hot summers.

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