Dr. Katy Beebe invited me to speak to her historical preservation class at Southeast Missouri State University last year. Dr. Lily Santora asked if I would come back April 8 to meet with her class.
Dr. Beebe’s class was researching Main Street, so I put together a list of the stories I had done about downtown. Dr. Santora gave her class a wide variety of local landmarks. I’ll spend the next couple of days helping her students by posting links to stories I’ve done about their topics. I’m going to concentrate on churches and cemeteries today. (Maybe I can make up for all those assignments I didn’t turn in when I was a student.)
[Hint to students: don’t just read what I’ve written. The comments are generally more interesting than my copy. Feel free to post questions and comments of your own. My readers are a friendly group who love to share Cape’s history. Click on the photos to make them larger.]
First Presbyterian Church
St. Mary’s Cathedral
Christ Episcopal Church
The church and May Greene Garden
Evangelical United Church of Christ
Crash damages church sign
St. James AME Church
National NAACP president speaks at church
St. Mary’s Cemetery
Aerial of St. Mary’s Cemetery
When I ran the picture of the Town Plaza from the 1962 Girardot, I commented that the shopping center wasn’t much different than downtown’s Main Street, except that it had ample and free parking.
That got me to thinking of this 2011 aerial of the Old Town Cape shopping area. You don’t realize how compact Cape Girardeau is until you see that downtown was essentially bounded by Broadway on the north and Independence on the south. Themis hit a dead end at Spanish at the foot of the Common Pleas Courthouse hill. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)
Not a lot of changes
There are a few buildings gone and a few new buildings, but the aerials from the middle to late 1960s look remarkably like the 2011 photo.
This post has a collection of links to stories about Main Street businesses.
When I went to school back in Ohio, we had the Hocking River flowing through the campus (REALLY through it when it flooded every couple of years). I used to say, though, that to somebody who grew up on the Mississippi, the Hocking was barely a creek.
It was fun taking Ohio Curator Jessica down to the Mississippi at night. We happened to run into a couple of crewmen from the buoy tender Pathfinder who told us what it was like putting out the markers that keep the huge tows in the channel.
We heard music
We could hear music drifting over the floodwall. Jessica identified one of the sounds as coming from a trombone. She knew it was a trombone, she said, because she used to honk one.
I confessed that I could identify a drum or a cymbal on a good day; otherwise my knowledge of musical instruments was limited. “Is a trombone that horn with a slidey thing?” I asked.
I could hear her eyes rolling, even in the darkness.
The Crystal and Anna Serenade
When we got up on Water Street, we ran into Crystal Lander of Jackson and Anna Nice of Cape doing some pickin’ and singing.
Showing my newly-acquired musical sophistication, I observed that a trombone was not involved in their impromptu performance.
The last time I wrote about 101 North Main it was because it was on the list of the most endangered buildings in Cape Girardeau. I told Mother that I expected it would be a parking lot the next time I hit town. The upper story was leaning out over sidewalk and a big cable looked like it was holding the building together.
I am happy to report that the historic building has been pulled back from the abyss. It’s got a long way to go, but I’m not afraid to walk next to it now. The Common Pleas Courthouse is up the hill on the left and the building that was once Hecht’s Department Store is on the right. You can click on the images to make them larger.
The building has been repaired to the point the restraining cable is no longer needed and the plywood tunnel that protected passersby from possible falling bricks has been removed.
The old building had been the Sturdivant Bank (the oldest bank in Southeast Missouri), the site of Cape’s first long distance phone call, Minnen’s Dress Shop and Cape Wiggery, among other things. Here is more of 101 North Main’s history. Its neighbor, the St. Charles Hotel, home to General Grant in the Civil War, was torn down in 1967.