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.
After I ran photos of the Flood of 1943 from Dad’s scrapbook, a member of the Lamkin Family sent me this aerial photo of the flood. I asked who took it so I could credit the photographer, and he said, “No idea. It hung in my grandfather’s office for as long as I recall.”
Themis Street is on the left and Broadway is on the right. You can see the steeple of Trinity Lutheran Church and the Academic Hall dome in the background. Buckner-Ragsdale is the three-story building on the right, at the foot of Broadway. The St. Charles Hotel is the tall, light-colored building on the left side of Themis. The building with the checkered tile and sharp-peaked roof is Hecht’s Department Store. The Sturdivant Bank Building is between the St. Charles and Hecht’s.
Click on the photo to make it larger.
Here are some earlier stories about Buckner’s and the Lamkin family.
When you look at the Common Pleas Courthouse from Spanish Street, you hardly notice the windows in the dome. (You can click the photos to make them larger.)
Looking east from the courthouse
If you’re lucky enough to hook up with guys like IT director Eric McGowen and public works director Don McQuay, folks who have the right keys and know where the hidden passageways are, you can see some impressive sights. I’m glad Friend Shari and I picked a day when it wasn’t 107 outside for our tour. Even on a relatively cool (sub-100) day, it was hot and dusty. The tiny and winding staircases were made for smaller people than me.
Here’s a view down Themis Street. The greenish building on the left side of Spanish and Themis was Doyle’s Hat Shop. One of the Teen Age Clubs was in the building across the street from it. The tall, red brick building that was the Sturdivant Bank may not be with us for long. It’s on the Endangered Building List. A steel cable is keeping bricks from the top floor from raining down on Main Street.
View to the west
This is the view in the opposite direction. The Civil War fountain and statue is to the right of the roof. Don shared an interesting story about it when we were at the Jackson Courthouse. We’ll save it for another day.
DR. C.E. Schuchert’s bandstand
The bandstand dedicated to Dr. C.E. Schuchert and the KFVS tower can be seen to the northwest. The view from the 11th floor of the KFVS building is pretty spectacular, too. There’s a photo looking back toward the courthouse that provides an interesting counterpoint to this one.
Scott Moyers had a story in The Missourian that the Cape commission had released an endangered buildings list. Here are the ones considered most endangered:
- B’nai Israel Synagogue, 126 S. Main St.
- Broadway Theater, 805 Broadway
- Esquire Theater, 824 Broadway
- Fort D blockhouse, 920 Fort St.
- Franklin School, 215 N. Louisiana St.
- Hanover Lutheran School, 2949 Perryville Road
- Old Jefferson School, 731 Jefferson Ave.
- Kage School, 3110 Kage Road
- Lorimier Apartments, 142-148 S. Lorimier St.
- Sturdivant Bank, 101 N. Main St.
I’ve done stories on almost all of them. Here’s a look back:
I imagine the long, cold walk to the outhouse was not fun for this little guy,
I spent many a happy hour in the Broadway balcony
- I was sure that the inside of the old Broadway Theater would be a disaster with the roof falling in and debris all over the place. When I got my first glimpse of the interior, I was transported back to the days of Saturday matinee movies in a grand theater. It’s ragged, but it’s still grand.
- The basement under the theater was HUGE, but the dressing rooms for the old stage actors were tiny.
The Esquire had over a mile of neon lighting when it opened in 1947
The building we know as Civil War Fort D didn’t exist until 1937. It was used as a residence in the 1960s.
101 North Main / Sturdivant Bank
Bank, telephone exchange building, Minnen’s Dress Shop, Cape Wiggery. The old building at 101 North Main Street has been many things and has some interesting connections to other pieces of Southeast Missouri history. Its neighbor, the St. Charles Hotel, home to General Grant in the Civil War, was torn down in 1967.
B’nai Israel Synagogue
The B’nai Israel Synagogue is in an historical triangle that includes the Red House and St. Vincent’s Church.
Jefferson was a black school in 1953-1955 before the system was integrated.
This part of Franklin School will be torn down when the new building behind it is completed.