St. Charles Hotel: General Grant Slept Here

I shot this photo of birds flying around inside the St. Charles Hotel on March 11, 1967, and it ran on the front page of The Missourian on March 13. It had been sold Dec. 16, 1965, and was in the process of being razed when I took the picture. The roof had been removed and the interior was being gutted.

Gen. Grant slept here

Gen. U.S. Grant was registered in Room 5 for 50 days during the Civil War. Carrie Nation, of axe-wielding, saloon-busting fame, was a guest in 1907.

The building was completed in January of 1861. It was THE place to stay at the time. It was four stories tall, had verandas, an observatory, views of the river and large ventilated rooms.

The rooms had electric fans, according to this sign taken between Cape and Jackson April 13, 1967. Of course, by this time, the roof was off and ventilation was plentiful. I wonder what the $1.50 room looked like.

I stayed in an old hotel with spacious rooms in Piedmont for $2 a night during that era, so it’s possible that you COULD get a room that cheaply. The bathroom was down the hall, but it WAS inside.

The Missourian carried a notice of sale July 23, 1965. In it, it mentioned that the hotel building was four stories tall, had 70 feet of frontage, 50 rooms to rent and three tenants on the first floor (with written leases expiring at different times).

St. Charles Drug Store

The St. Charles Drug Store must have been one of the tenants, because a story on Jan. 18, 1967, said that the store was moving to the southwest corner of Broadway and Main St., to the building formerly occupied by the Singer Company. The move was going to require extensive renovations to the ground and second floors of the property.

Here’s a 2009 photo of the corner of the property where the Singer Company / St. Charles Drugstore was located.

Sterling’s replaced St. Charles Hotel

I shot this photo of the Sterling Store in January 1968. It must have been a cold day, because there is snow on the car parked in front of the store.

When I was home the last couple of times, I walked all of Main St., Broadway and Water St. shooting landmark buildings. The Sterling store must have been non-memorable enough that I didn’t waste any electrons on it.

Links to other photos

The Singer Company building and the St. Charles show up in the backgrounds of earlier stories I’ve posted.

[Editor’s note: things will be a bit slow here for a couple of days. I’m loading up the van to head back to Cape for the reunion, so I may not be posting until I get set up at my Mother’s house again. Hope to see a bunch of you there.]

Nighttime Old Town Cape from the Common Pleas Courthouse

I have a favorite night shot of the Common Pleas Courthouse and Port Cape Girardeau taken from the Themis St. floodgate looking west, so I thought I’d see what it looked like from the other side.

This is shooting down the courthouse hill looking east down Themis St. The floodgate at the end of the street is closed because the Mississippi River is at about 36 feet.

Loose shot or tight shot?

I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked it as a wideangle or a slightly tighter photo. Electrons are cheap, so you get both.

There are some tiny smudges in the tight shot in the middle of the sky. You can calls them puffs of smoke if you like, but I think they are specular highlights from the street lights bouncing around between the lens elements. What the heck, let’s go back to calling them puffs of smoke. That sounds more interesting.

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge from the Courthouse

While putzing around trying to get this shot composed, (for the record, I don’t care much for it) a young woman materialized from the shadows. We exchanged some pleasantries and she disappeared. There was an elderly gentleman sitting on a park bench nearby and he said, “Do you reckon we scared her off?”

Shana Gemoules, stairclimber supreme

About five minutes later, she showed up again.

“Did you just run up those courthouse stairs? Twice? On purpose?”

“Yes. It was three times.Yes. I’m training for a triathlon in Florida in April.”

When she disappeared down the hill again, the man on the park bench said, “Tell her there are 55 steps, not counting the landings.”

When she got back to the top, she was barely breathing hard and her heart rate was in the low 170s (resting is usually 52 BPM, she said.) A stint of working in a downtown restaurant where she had to hump meals up three floors prepared her for running up and down the courthouse steps, she said.

Getting ready to go car-free

Shana, who grew up in Perryville, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and has worked at a variety of local resturaunts. She’s at Imo’s Pizza now, a place she rates highly for its employee-friendly management and good food.

Right now, she’s working to get debt-free and to sell her car to cut expenses. Cape is small enough that she feels like she can get around on foot or or her bike. Her boyfriend lives in a house with three other guys. The four of them make do with one car for those times when they go a long distance or need to carry something bulky.

When she finished her fifth climb up the hill, she said she was going to call it a night. All of the talk about food and restaurants had made her hungry.

I waited until she had run out of sight before I headed to my car. I wasn’t going to insult her or embarrass me by offering her a ride.