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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.


St. Francis Hospital

I happened to be in Cape when the old St. Francis Hospital was reduced to a pile of rubble in September of 2000. Somewhere, filed with my Florida film, are photos I took inside the hospital after it closed, but before it was razed. They’ll surface one of these days.

St. Francis Annexation

I ran across this Missourian ad from Sept. 2, 1967 calling out the vote for the St. Francis annexation. I’m assuming that was to annex the space where the present hospital complex is near William St. and Mt. Auburn Rd.

New Hospital under construction

I shot this aerial of the new St. Francis Hospital under construction some time in the mid-70s, as best as I can guess. I had a hard time figuring out what the building was based on how it looks today.

When I called up a Google Earth shot, I could see this building buried in layer after layer of additions.

St. Francis site today

The Fort Hope Apartments occupy the old hospital’s space today.The low-income housing development was built in 2001. A Missourian story in 2004 said that single tenants at Fort Hope must make less than $23,040 a year. The income for a family of four must be no more than $32,880 a year. Monthly rents range from $240 for a single-bedroom apartment to $355 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Restricted access and no-nonsense management is credited for the complex being reasonably crime-free and well-maintained in an area known for problems.

Old St. Francis neighborhood

This aerial, shot in early November, has Good Hope St. on the left; Sprigg St. running across the top; Morgan Oak at the right; S. Ellis running acrossthe middle, and Pacific at the bottom.

The small, orange-colored  building on Good Hope across from the Fort Hope Apartments is the infamous office of Dr. Herbert, the man who gave me a wooden stick phobia. It was painted white in my generation’s day. The family living there now knew nothing about the building’s past.

Other St. Francis neighborhood stories

Here are links to several stories touching on the hospital and the neighborhood.

St. Francis Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

13 comments to St. Francis Hospital

  • Charlie Herbst

    I recall going to visit my grandmother when she had a pacemaker put in. My uncle “snuck us in past the nun” at the front desk because we were under the appropriate age to visit (I am convinced the nun knew). As a community police officer it was my job to check the building for vagrants. It was quite a scary place even in broad daylight!

  • Ginny Wrape Johnston

    Dr Herbert was the best doctor around. He always knew immediately what was wrong with me. He came across gruff but I think he was a teddy bear inside.

  • Gail Jackson Brown

    Mom was a proud Operating Room Head Nurse, and later Supervisor, St Francis employee for 34 years and many of my youthful memories center around it. I colored on orange X-Ray sheets at her desk outside the OR while she was in surgery, enjoyed the lamb shaped Easter cake made for me by the nuns, and sat by while the nurses emptied the autoclave, etc. Security was not an issue then. I can still hear the echo of the nuns in their habits and smell the medicinal aroma when I think of SF. Thanks for the nostalgic visit.

  • Dr. Herbert was indeed a “bear,” but he really cared about the children he treated, and woe be to the mother who did not follow his instructions in douching out her child’s runny nose with salt solution! Today, my 30-year-old son has taught his 4-year-old son to use a Netti pot to achieve the same effect.
    My husband spent some time at the old St. Francis Hospital when he cut off a finger at Southeast Lumber Company in the early 60’s. The nuns would confiscate their cigarettes, so they kept them in the nightstand drawer. Those nuns were ahead of their time!

  • Joe Whitright-class of '45

    My three first children, girls, were all born in the old St. Francis, deliveres by doctor John Crowe, so due to that, I have rather fond memoried of the old place!
    Joe Whitright

  • Elroy F. Kinder

    Susan and her family (Sciortino) have a long history with St. Francis Hospital. Her aunt Catherine (Bargman) died there after childbirth during WW II. Her husband Henry, stationed (stateside) in the Army, came home on train, emergency, and not knowing she had died, got off the train at the downtown station and ran all the way to the Good Hope street hospital, only to be told she had died a day earlier. Susan’s grandmother Josephine LaMantia Sciortino and her grandfather John both died there, Joesphine in 1964 and John in 1939. Her mother Gladys Sutton Sciortino died there in 1973 and her father Joseph in 1974. Susan graduated from St. John’s in St. Louis in 1961 and went to work there as a staff nurse in September 1961, working there when it closed and moved to the new location. After the move was made there was a “tag” sale at the Arena building. We attended and I purchased the following: a crucifix and picture from a room, a guerney (sp)?, a nursey crib frame, a sheel metal bin, on rollers used for laundry and some other items such as metal containers used for meals etc. After the University had used it for student nurses’ they had a “tag” sale at the university farm. I attended and purchased a metal bedside table and a metal food table that folded across the bed for meals. When the hospital was taken down (as these pictures show), I (too) managed to enter the restricted area and “rescued” several pieces of floor (concrete with tile surface), that, according to Susan, came from the ICU on third floor which was placed there a few years before closing taking the place of the OB unit and nursery which closed. Southeast then was the only hospital with those facilities in Cape Giradeau.
    I have a couple of pictures of the floor “chunks” and also the 1961 group of new nurses that were hired. The large picture is “somewhere” in a back corridor of the present hospital. The pictures are on FB. If you cannot see them there and have an interest to see them, you can e-mail me at ekinder34@hotmail.com. Also, Susan’s Uncle Paul Sciortino, Aunt Rose Sciortino and her Aunt Angeline Sciortino Brice.

  • Elroy F. Kinder

    Sorry…the last sentence: Also, Susan’s Uncle Paul Sciortino, Aunt Rose Sciortino and her Aunt Angeline Sciortino Brice also died there…somewhere (without looking up the dates) in the 1990’s

  • Tim Luckett

    When I was a nursing student at SEMO from 1975-1977, I worked as an orderly at the old St. Francis Hospital. When the new hospital was opened, the staff helped with the transition from the old building to the new. I was sorry to see it go.

  • I have several old St. Francis stories. Will try to be brief. First, the building intriques me not only because of the significant history but I had three siblings born there and a grandfather pass there.

    I remember when I was a boy children were not allowed in the patient rooms and I always dreaded it when my parents would visit somebody at St. Francis because I thought it was old, dark and creepy. Kids were allowed only in a main floor waiting room or the cafeteria. I thought Southeast was more “kid friendly.” One Sunday afternoon my Mom went to visit a friend and Dad took me to the basement to get snacks. As we were sitting on a bench in the corridor they wheeled a dead body right in front us and out the back door.

    When I was about 12 my doctor ordered an EEG there. A nun met Mom and I at the main lobby to take us to the room and she looked at me and said, “Are you ok? You look a little pale.” I wanted to say, “No, I’m not ok. I’m going to get a skull full of pins stuck in my head and I’m scared out of my mind!” But she was very sweet.

    About 1990 the building was long vacant and unsecured and I just walked on in with my camcorder and walked through the whole building and filmed. Glad I did because now that it’s gone. I know it was risky but I wanted to do it in the name of historic preservation. đŸ˜‰ When it was a dorm some of the students complained of hautings. During my tour the batteries in my camcorder, camera and flashlight all went dead at the same time. I knew it was time to leave.

    • Greg, when I took my stroll through the place, I made into what much have been the lab. There were glass slides all over the place. No telling what biohazards were scattered on the floor and every horizontal surface. I made a couple of photos and made a quick exit.

      Before I left, I unscrewed a room number that might have been the one my mother was in when I was born. She wasn’t sure exactly which one it was, but I’m sure I’m correct, give or take a couple of numbers, based on her description.

      I don’t know about it being haunted, but I scared the bejeebers out of some kids who were exploring like I was.

  • Ken, yes, I too was scared of the biozards from the microscope glass samples and little blood and fluid vials. GROSS!! I sure wasn’t going to touch them. I prayed all those germs and virus died after a certain length of time. And I was concerned about being exposed to dust and asbestos. And I was concerned about ghosts but I was a little worried about coming face-to-face with more terrestrial creatures like a drug dealer. I thought I’ll try whach him with my Maglight. That would have been AWESOME if you took the room number from your birth. My mom gave birth to three of siblings and she thought it was on the second floor in the middle of building. I took a room number plaque. Room 211. I unscrewed it with car keys. And I also took along a large, electronic gadget that looked like a large radio. I know nothing about biomed equipment and have no idea was it was or what it was for. A couple years ago I donated the room number to the River Heritage Museum and the gadget to SFMC. Like I mentioned on my FAcebook page I’m sure they were just popping their buttons to get it back. I plop it on a desk and they’re thinking, “Great. We tried to leave all this junk behind and this stupid boob drags it back.” But they seemed happy to receive it.

  • JIM LUCKETT

    GAVE Many pints of blood at ST Francis. 25$ a pint was living money back in the early 70s.

    jim luckett

  • Trent Condellone

    I was on my way back to Springfield, Missouri, around 199(7? 8?) from Nashville, TN and decided to take a detour through Cape. Saw St Francis’s smokestack and went to investigate. Was intrigued, and decided to buy it. The previous owner had passed away, laving his son with it, and several similar buildings, so it was not hard to acquire.

    Had fun exploring it. I recall the police being called first time I was there, in an afternoon. They seemed quite surprised to find it had transferred ownership; short while later that information had went from patrol car to City Hall, who dispatched someone to meet me.

    Interesting place at 3:00am in a lightening storm. Creepy. Surprised nobody ever used it for a movie set.

    Interesting note about the morgue. It was in the very bottom, down some stairs. Still had all it’s metal; scrappers hadn’t found it I guess, the door was behind another door as I recall, hard to spot.

    The room full of glass slides on the topmost floor, that was crazy. Left there very quickly. The whole area at the very top had been blocked off from the inside; had to crawl on the ledge outside the building to unblock it.

    Didn’t get to see it as much as I wanted to, living in Springfield. Nice to see these pictures, and history.

    There were a number of old gaslights, converted to electric, that were on the grounds. Most of them unbolted themselves, and then ran away. Several were in that nice restaurant that was downtown around 1998. After I ate dinner there and saw them I went and pulled up the rest and took them to Springfield. Wanted someone there to have them, however nobody seemed interested. Same with the front door I think it was.

    I am going to scan my pictures shortly, and put them online.

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