A reader was asking me about 818 Broadway. It’s been a whole lot of things, but it’ll always be Beard’s Sport Shop to me. When I photographed it in 2009, the sign on the front of building said Grace Cafe, but I think it had already closed its doors. I used to go to Grace Cafe when it was located in the old Vandeven’s Mercantile building at Pacific and Broadway because they had a fast internet connection.
I never noticed how ornate the trim was on the building until I looked at these photos. I thought that it might have been added recently, but Fred Lynch had a Frony photo of Beard’s and Wayne’s Grill that shows it clearly in 1961.
When Friend Shari and I shot the interior of the Broadway Theater in December, we retreated across the street for some coffee to thaw out. I couldn’t remember the name of the place, but a Missourian business column on April 18, 2011, said “Calix Coffee opened at 818 Broadway, at the former Grace Cafe location in Cape Girardeau. Owner Andrew Whaley, Jackson, previously worked at Grace Cafe as a barista. The shop sells coffee and fresh baked pastries, and Whaley hopes to add sandwiches and salads in the future.”
I was trading some messages with Nicolette Brennan from the City of Cape about a picture of Broadway for a project she’s working on. That got me to thinking about how many Broadway stories I’ve done. I’ve documented the street from the river’s edge to the old Colonial Tavern on the west end. Click on the photos to make them larger and click on the links to go to the original story.
The family felt that the tract hadn’t been improved in the past 10 years, so they filed a suit to reclaim the land. A granite marker with the name “Doggett Park” next to the Masonic Temple parking lot is all that remains of the park.
Crash at Broadway and Fountain
Sometimes what you think is going to be an inconsequential story resonates with readers. Fred Kaefpfer, who was directing traffic at this crash at the corner of Broadway and Fountain, turned out to be Cape’s singing policeman. It became one of the most-commented stories of the early blog. The Idan-Ha Hotel shows up in the background of the photo.
Bob Fuller’sBob’s Shoe Service was where I stocked up on Red Wing boots, the ideal footwear for a photographer. They’d shine up acceptably for formal wear (at least as formal as I ever got), but you could wade water and walk on fire with no worries.
I managed to talk my way into the Broadway Theateron a cold December day. It still has the feel of the premier theater of the city.
What’s going to happen to the Esquire?
When I did this story in October 2011, it looked like the Esquire Theater was going to get new life. A new owner had an ambitious plan to renovate it. The latest stories in The Missourian make it sound like the project is unraveling.
Howard’s Athletic Goods and a handful of other businesses have moved into the building at the corner of Broadway and Pacific over the years, but it’ll always be Vandeven’s Merchantile to me.
It dawns on me that I have even more photographs along Broadway – way too many to inflict on you in one shot. I’ll hold off putting up the rest of them until another day. Don’t forget to click on the links to see the original stories.
Looks like there might have been a minor fender-bender east of Pacific on Broadway on a warm night when the streets were wet. The negative is in poor shape, but there are all kinds of interesting things captured in the frame. Click on the photos to make them larger.
I think it’s a fender bender because the car in the foreground (with a Ford Groves license plate) is empty.
There’s a small crowd of gawkers gathering on the sidewalk.
There’s a guy standing behind the second car exhibiting body language that he’s not particularly happy. You can see that same sort of thing at another crash at Fountain and Broadway where you can also read about Cape’s singing policeman, Fred Kaempfer.
Barely worth two shots
It had to have been minor because it was only worth two shots. It wasn’t newsworthy enough to make the paper and it didn’t look like it would turn into an insurance job.
The Esquire Theater is showing Walt Disney’s Moon Spinners.
The Wayne’s Grill sign is still lit, probably open to catch late-night moviegoers. Wayne’s was the home of the best filet I’ve ever eaten, all for $1.25.
Beard’s Sport shop is on the left side of the street just beyond the Esquire and just before the phone company.
There’s a guy standing in front of the price sign at the Cities Service gas station, so we don’t know how much you had to pay to fill your tank, but I’m guessing it was going for about .39.9 a gallon. Thoni’s price wars that took it down to 19 cents didn’t usually make it that far into town.
If you look above and to the left of the highway signs, you can see one of the cheesy plastic rose baskets that were supposed to symbolize City of Roses.
Vandeven’s Merchantile is on the right. There’s a sign that looks like it says “Novelty Shop,” that might have been Bodine’s Gift Shop at 823 Broadway. Beyond it is the vertical sign for Radonics Electronics Radio and TV.
Well, it looks like the excitement might have been premature. One of Buckner’s enterprises, a new restaurant named Razing Cain, closed in less than a month. The Missourian is reporting that Buckner is now “rethinking” if he’s going forward with the Esquire project.
I have fond memories of Trinity Hall, previously know as the Alt House. I know I attended kindergarten, first and second grades there. There’s a slim chance that third grade was held there, too, but I might be wrong about that.
Mrs. Bohnsack was the kindergarten teacher; Mrs. Kelpe was the perfect first grade teacher who made every child feel loved; Miss Gade controlled her second grade pupils. I remember her as a rather severe woman who wore old-fashioned black high-topped shoes. You did not want to get on the wrong side of Miss Gade. Her sister, another Miss Gade, also taught at Trinity Lutheran School. Mrs. Froemsdorf taught third grade. She combined the nicer qualities of Mrs. Kelpe with mixture of Miss Gade’s sternness.
Aerial view of Trinity Lutheran School neighborhood
This aerial from around 1966 shows Trinity Lutheran School in the middle of the photo. If you look to the left side of the frame, there are a number of changes at the Broadway / Pacific intersection. The First Chance / Last Chance Saloon is gone. Just about everything west of the Esquire Theater has been turned into a parking lot. Howards has moved into the old Vandeven’s Merchantile. The Broadway Theater is at the top center of the photo.
Closeup of Trinity School
The building with the peaked roofs nestled in behind the other buildings is Trinity Hall, originally the George Alt House, built in 1903 by Capt. George E. Alt.. Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders’ From the Morgue blog has a photo of the building taken before the land was sold for the Lutheran School.
Sharon quotes historic preservation consultant Terri Foley describing the building as a two-story house influenced by the Shingle style. It may have had two stories, but it also had a sizable attic that I always wanted to explore as a kid, but there was a gate blocking off the stairway. I either didn’t have the nerve to push past it or I never found it unlatched, I don’t remember.
Fred Lynch ran a Frony picture of the kindergarten’s wooden jungle gym from 1947. The view out the window looks like the kindergarten was on the second floor, which seems right. Mrs. Kelpe’s first grade was on the first floor on the south side of the building.
Capt. Alt killed in World War I
Sharon’s story said that Capt. Alt was born in Japan in 1870, while his father was working there. The elder Alt bought 20,000 acres of land in the Cape Girardeau area in 1875. Capt. Alt came here when he was 21 to manage his father’s real estate holdings. His family held grand balls and parties in the Alt House until they left the area in 1913. The following year, he returned to England to fight the Germans in World War I. He was killed in the second Battle of Ypres on April 15, 1915, becoming what some have said was the first Cape Girardeau casualty of the war.
I’m not sure where we heard the story, but someone told us kids that “the Englishman” who lived in the house was determined that he would never sleep off English soil, so the legs of his bed were placed in cans containing soil from his native land. I’ve never seen any written account of that, but it was a cool story, nonetheless.
The Lutheran congregation bought the property for $10,000 the summer of Capt. Alt’s death. After my generation attended class there, the school was converted to a youth center in 1959. By 1967, it was beginning to look pretty shabby inside.
The smell of wet wool on radiators
Looking at the radiator on the left side of the photo brings back the memories of wet wool drying on hot radiators on cold, snowy days.
Destruction vs deconstruction
Somebody asked me the other day what the difference was between “destruction” and “deconstuction.” My first response was to say that the latter was some new high-falutin’ made-up word. Then, when I looked at this photos, the difference became clear.
THIS is destruction. No pains were taken to salvage any of the beautiful details of the structure. Everything was to be ground into small pieces and hauled off.
Historical pile of rubble
Yet one more piece of Cape Girardeau’s past was reduced to splinters. Deconstruction would have involved a slower, more precise disassembly with the goal of saving as many features as possible for reuse.
I’ve been looking for the photos I shot of the wrecking ball crashing into the building, but they’re proving elusive. They’ll show up some day.
2010 aerial of Trinity Lutheran School
This aerial of the neighborhood looking to the east was taken November 6, 2010.