Can Jefferson Be Saved?

I ran photos and background on Jefferson School, Cape’s oldest standing school, in the spring of 2010. After I read a Scott Moyers Missourian story on Sept. 8, 2011, saying that the school was slated to be razed the next week, I figured it was all over for the building. On Sept. 21, though, Scott has a story saying the demolition had been postponed until an environmental assessment could be done.

One last look

I decided to take another look at the historic building, which was the last segregated black schoolhouse in town.

It wasn’t encouraging. When I walked back to the car, I told Mother, “It’s going to be a race between tearing it down and having it fall down. I can see through some of the upstairs windows that the roof has collapsed. The east wall has cracks and looks like it’s bulging out.”

Maybe it’s not that bad

I happened to be talking with a man whose family has built and restored masonry buildings in Cape for decades. He said that he took a look at the building about six months ago and didn’t share my impression that it couldn’t be salvaged. The cracks around and above the windows aren’t anything that can’t be fixed, he claimed.

“I can look at a wall and tell if it’s straight or not. If the bottom’s broken and sheared, there’s nothing you can do but work from the bottom to the top, but if it’s just cracks around the windows at the tops, you can tuckpoint them.” He said that the foundation stones and walls are in good shape.

Landmark or rubble?

Will someone with the will and cash to restore the building step in at the last minute? If the fellow I talked with is correct, it MIGHT be a building worth saving. I’d like to see a living building there the next time I come to town and not another lost landmark.

Jefferson School photo gallery

Here is a gallery of what I have to admit are some pretty disheartening photographs. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

14 Replies to “Can Jefferson Be Saved?”

    1. They’re sad?

      Looks fine at my end. Anyone else having a problem?

      We might have had frost here this morning. Maybe I used a few leftover Florida electrons I carried with me and they’re cold.

  1. It would be nice to see the old Jefferson school building saved. I sure passed by it many times in 3 years in the Central High building on Pacific, and it was saved & restored into a really nice apartment buildig that I have not yet had the pleasure of touring, but intend to the next time I’m in Cape.
    Joe Whitright “45”

  2. I attended Jefferson for only one year, a year of no pressure to pass state achievement tests, but a year of consequential learning, peppered with sweet traditions.Never noticed its unique architectural features. Ken, so glad you brought them to us.

    1. Hi Carole,

      My wife and I are founders of a private school called Prodigy Leadership Academy. We have a dream to locate the school in this old Jefferson building. We would like to gather the stories of those who attended this school in the past. Would you be willing to be interviewed?



  3. This and the impending demolition of Franklin Elementary break my heart. Cape Girardeau’s greatest treasure is its history, but city officials seem hell-bent on destroying it. Newer is not always better. I don’t live in Cape anymore, but if asked I would donate money to save those buildings.

    1. In fairness to the city, Jefferson School has been in private hands for decades. It’s served as a union hall and apartment building, among other things.

      The present owner, from what I can piece together, has allowed the structure to deteriorate to the point where only a determined new owner could restore it.

      I’ve heard through the grapevine that there was a credible offer, but the current owners decided they’d rather tear it down / let if fall down rather than accept it. The offer, if it was true, sounded to me like more than you could get for a vacant lot in a neighborhood that already has its fair share of vacant lots.

      I’d rather see Jefferson restored than the buildings at the corner of Broadway and Sprigg. The school has certainly played a bigger part in Cape’s history.

    2. Hi Michelle,

      I was sad to see the old Washington demolished. Next will be Franklin. My wife and I started a 501c3, private school 2.5 years ago. Our goal is to help children achieve at their full potential and to give support to those who may be experiencing failure on some levels. We have a dream to acquire this building and see it restored to its original purpose. Check out our website at
      Our first year we had 19 students. Second, we increased to 28 students. This year, we serve 42 wonderful children ranging in grades K-9. It’s an amazing experience and the results are profound!
      If you’d really like to help fulfill a dream regarding this building and the lives that will be impacted as a result, I’d be pleased to give you that opportunity!

      Kind regards,

      Russell Grammer

  4. Newer is not always better. Yes Michelle this is true but unfortunately political agendas don’t always follow reason (not sure this is the case here). For this building to have survived this long, 107 years, says alot and the history behind it.

    Maybe the state will step in?

  5. I attended Jefferson School for the 1st thru 3rd Grade (Jan 1949 to Jan 1952). The school only had three grades. After 3rd grade students trasferred to May Green or Lorimer depending on their homes location.

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