“Going to be Gone Forever”

I was going to shoot a quick mug shot of the building at 501 Broadway, the one that has the big blue mural on the side of it, because it’s going to be torn down in the next couple of weeks. The property has been purchased by Trinity Lutheran Church. The cleared lot will be used for parking or for green space, a Missourian story said.

I happened to there at just the right time to catch David Renshaw, the guy who is going to knock it down. He gave me a tour of the old building and said some things that are worth a whole separate story. This post spins off one I did about neighborhood businesses and landmarks in Cape. One of them was Discovery Playhouse, a Broadway success story. The old building, constructed in 1916, has been turned into a children’s museum.

When I checked the link, I saw this March 22, 2010, photo taken from the second floor of the Playhouse, looking past the old Walther’s sign toward the building across the street that’s going to be torn down. (The Walther’s sign has been changed to read Discovery Playhouse, as you can see in the photo below.)

Nobody will have this view again

Renshaw said there wasn’t much to see upstairs at 501 Broadway, and I had to agree with him. I love old buildings, but this one was in sad shape. As much as I would have loved to have done a weeper about a poor old historic building being destroyed, I couldn’t do it. Sometimes the patient is too far gone for for heroic measures. The time to have saved it was before the roof started leaking and the mortar between the bricks started crumbling to powder.

Just as I started to walk out of the room, I turned and said, “I guess I should get a picture of the building across the street. It may be the last picture ever taken with this viewpoint.”

A friend of mine who used to do construction rehab said, “I don’t think I’ve ever met an introspective–much less, articulate–demo guy.  Usually they’re the bottom of the construction hierarchy, along with roofers.  Probably because both trades normally hire casual labor with little in the way of permanent skills.”

“Gone. No more”

Well, my friend never met David Renshaw. What he said captured my thoughts exactly.

Renshaw said, “I learned one thing in demolition – and I look at it from a lot of different ways. This is it. You just said it. This is going to be gone forever. Gone. No more. Right now you just experienced the last thing forever.”

He nailed it.

If I get my act together, you’ll see photos inside and outside 501-503 Broadway tomorrow. Renshaw was also the guy who used a pair of huge shears to make all the cuts on the Mississippi River Traffic Bridge just before it splashed into the river. I’ll share his touching story about something he found on the bridge that will show that he’s not just some brute who knocks things down.

12 Replies to ““Going to be Gone Forever””

  1. The bottom line is, another one(building) bites the dust. I should say buildings. There is the 501-503 Broadway, then two buildings that have been joined with 501 on Middle Street. So at least 3 we are losing to the wrecking ball. Down they go one by one. For whatever reason, buildings on the “corners” downtown are the ones coming down. Sturdivant Bank, NW corner of Main and Themis has been condemned and it’s future is precarious. The University took down Howard’s, NW corner of Pacific and Broadway. And at the same time took down the old gas station along with Wayne’s Grill and the Playmor. Years before, owner George Bockhorst took down the old tavern, The Last Chance on the SW corner of Broadway and Pacific. The First Presbyterian Church bought and then razed the building on SW corner of Broadway and Spanish. The old Cape Cut Rate, SW corner of Broadway and Sprigg was severely fire damaged, it came down… and a part of the old Idan-Ha Hotel, SW corner of Broadway and Fountain was destroyed by fire and was lost. Many YEARS ago, the old St. Charles Hotel, SW corner of Main and Themis came down and a new building constructed (Sterlings???) came up in the old hotels place. I can’t remember what was on the SW corner of Ellis and Broadway, next to the Broadway other than Shakey’s Pizza, that caught on fire years ago (probably a grease fire from their “Mo-Jo’s) and was condemned. I don’t remember Shakey’s being in a historic building or not, see how memories fade!!

  2. I am enjoying, or perhaps I should say appreciating, your 500 block of Broadway pictures. My father had Simpson Appliance at 525 Broadway and the Ben Franklin in the 400 block in what was once the I Ben Miller Ice Cream Parlor building. A couple of years ago I stopped in the 525 building, many memories especially the basement which was deep and dark and I think partially under the street, at least as a kid I thought so. It is where we ended up seeking shelter during the tornado. We don’t get back to Cape often so I sppreciate seeing the changes.

  3. Emily, my father – Harry Stein, worked in the I Ben Miller Ice Cream Parlor during the summers he was in high school and college. Thanks for bringing that name up and flooding me with memories of his anecdotes.

  4. Well at least people are building new stuff somewhere!
    The Luthernans are expanding and tha tis good thing too. Scott is correct about corners in Cape…not a good place to have a business, except for Shivelbine’s Music Store…

  5. In answer to Scott Shivelbine-Tenkhoff’s Drug Store was in the SW corner of Ellis and Broadway before Shakey’s. I remember buying 1953 Topps baseball cards there. Later, the food and beer at Shakey’s
    are fondly remembered.

    Add 633 Broadway to the buildings razed. Rich Lawrence and I operated the first baseball card shop out of that location between St Louis and Memphis in the late 1970s-early 1980s. (I understand the historical marker noting that milestone has been delayed or lost permanently). That building wasn’t in that great of condition at that time. Our closest neighbors were the pigeons that found ways in and took up residence upstairs. I wasn’t surprised to read of it’s demise.

    1. I was trolling old stories and came across this article. Lots of history and memories in those downtown Cape old buildings. My Great Uncle, Jerome Tenkhoff, ran Tenkhoff’s drug store. My best friend and I purchased our sound system, the MAD sound system at Shivelbines music, and responding to Bill Stone’s comment, I was quite the regular at “Rich’s Attic.” My Mom would pile my friends and I into the back of the station wagon to road trip to Rich’s. It was a big part of my childhood. I still have the Twinkie baseball card box I purchased there with Tom Seaver, Pete Rose and Rod Carew on the back. Progress is bittersweet.

  6. Wasn’t 501 Broadway the former location of Cape Paint and Glass – the local Pittsburgh Paint and Rohm & Haas plastics dealer?

  7. Ken: Seeing the pictures of old buildings and hearing the stories of them is really quite interesting because the stories and pictures for me bring back a lot of memories of how things used to be. I went to a antique show at the VFW and bought 2 old supplements from the Southeast Missorian Newspaper from 1976 that had some old pictures of places that are no more as this place you talked about. It is sad to see them gone forever but then it reminds me of the Byrds song Turn, Turn ,Turn (taken from the book of Ecclesiastes) where you find these words, “To everything there is a season a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to build up and a time to tear down”. Now I didn’t quote that whole part but one thing about our earth is, it changes and the new replaces the old but the memories are something to keep as a “Memory” and remember a maybe more simpler time and those memories can be very precious to us. There will always be change so what is “New” today will someday be “Old”. Thanks Ken for all the wonderful memories you show us!!!! You do EXCELLENT work!!!!!!!

    1. The Byrds song was actually put together by Pete Seeger in 1959 using the words from Ecclesiastes 3:

      1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
      2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
      3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
      4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
      5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
      6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
      7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
      8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

      Some of the words have been slightly rearranged. When he got to the last verse, he added the words. “I swear it’s not too late.”

      The song has had quite an interesting history.

      1. Ken: Thanks for that factoid I didn’t really know about that song. I’ll have to dig into that and see what more might come up about it.

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