Main Street Project

 Reflections Main St Cape Girardeau MO 10-20-2009

Katy Beebe, an assistant professor at SEMO, asked if I would speak to her Historical Preservation class February 19. I couldn’t understand why they would be sitting in a classroom listening to me instead of chaining themselves to the handball court landmark the university wants to raze, but…

Dr. Beebe gave her class an assignment to uncover the history behind the buildings on Main Street between Themis and Broadway. Here is YOUR assignment: post comments about any businesses in that area that you can think of. She said she would allow her students to use my musings and your comments as honest to goodness reference material.

To help their research, here is a partial list of stories I’ve done on Main Street. Students here’s a hint: even if the story wasn’t PRIMARILY about your Main Street business, read through the comments anyway. Folks here tend to wander all over the place. Another hint: if you visit a page, then want to see if any new comments have been added, press Ctrl-F5 or whatever you use to refresh your browser. That’ll bring up any new stuff. Don’t be afraid to leave comments or ask questions. All of the folks who placed a comment on a story will get an email if you post something after them.


 Buckner-Ragsdales - Main Street 12-14-2011

Whoever drew this business is in luck. It is one of the best-known family-owned businesses in town with a wealth of information readily available. I’ve written about it several times, the Lamkin family has a detailed website and Kathrine Porter Russell Lamkin wrote a riveting account of the 1949 tornado on torn-out pages from a calendar. (By the way, you can click on any of the photos to make them larger.)

101 North Main

101 North Main Street Area 12-07-2011

Wrecks on Main Street

John Carpenter - Walter Joe Ford remove victim from wreck in front of Montgomery Wards 04-23-1966Prowling the streets at night gave me a chance to know the “doorshakers” like Jack Burris and to work Main Street crashes

General photos and stories about Main Street

Midnight Madness 1964 09Some of these may be more valuable because of comments than the original story.

Hecht’s Department Store

Hecht's weathervane disappeared after storm 10-15-2003

Considered one of Cape’s finest department stores.


Where “Poof” ended up

Other Main Street topics

St Charles Hotel  3-11-67Most of these businesses and some of the buildings are long gone.

Aerial photos of downtown

Cape Girardeau Downtown District looking up Broadway; 1960s aerial photoI tried to shoot Cape from the air as often as possible

Oddball stuff

Teen Age Club dance overflowed to 1st National Bank parking lot c 1965Some things defy categorization.

Good reference resources


18 Replies to “Main Street Project”

  1. Very nice…wonderful memories. I have wished to see photos of the inside of Osterlohs book store. That store holds delightful childhood memories of new crayons and other such necessities at the start of each school year. I have also wished to locate pictures of Old St. Vincent’s Grade School, but have not been successful.
    Thanks for taking us on many journeys back in time.

  2. A worthy project. Of course, it would be easy for readers of your blog we were there for most of the history or at least had the stories told to us about all the building downtown as it was called. I think the Hecht building is one of the more interesting ones. I wonder if the students will find the relationship to Chic Hecht, an old mentor of mine. The Buckner-Ragsdale building is interesting too, I wonder if you went into the building with gierger counter what you find?

  3. zickfield’s building was a theatre at one time. babber dave’s has some interesting photos of downtown cape on their walls.

    1. Steve, you have one on me. I didn’t know that. Does Kent? Somehow a theater doesn’t fit with the small balcony on the outside of the second floor. Maybe it was added later? Movies or stage shows? I do love the red tile roof on that building.

  4. Cape Wiggery was on the West side of the street. And they had much more than just wigs; I bought a rain poncho in there and thought I was all kinds of cool when I wore it around campus.

  5. Nothing yet said about Jack Trickey’s men’s clothing shop … don’t know what was there before his retail operation.

  6. I lived in the Red Star district just north of Broadway and would walk with our family ‘To Town’ and was mesmerized by the sparkling sidewalk around the First National Bank. And then there was the dark marble look of the walk down into the barber shop in the bank building in the next block south on Main. Both made me feel I was among the rich.

  7. I wonder if anyone drew Kassel’s Studio. My uncle, Jim Haman, could share quite a few stories and, no doubt, photos. Kassel’s was in business before the turn of the century (that’s last century, not 2000) and has a large collection of old photos around Cape. The studio was in the building on the east side of Main Street about three to four doors south of Buckner Ragsdale.

  8. My maternal grandfather, David Graves, was manager of Montgomery Wards from approximately 1950 through 1969. I have many pictures from inside the store, including fashion shows, as well as photos of Main Street itself. Some of the pictures include those of the flood prior to building of the flood wall, complete with boats in the water on Main Street. My aunt remembers riding in a boat on Main and that my grandpa had a ramp built so that business could continue on the second floor of the store. If a student is interested in a project regarding Montgomery Wards, I would be happy to meet with them, as well as provide a few copies of pictures.

    Should anyone ever be interested in the Good Hope area, my dad, Sam Unnerstall, and I would be happy to discuss our family drug store from 1927-1997, as well as an earlier Unnerstall business, the Green Tree Saloon.

  9. Hello all. I am one of the HP students at the University. I am wondering if anyone has any information about the building currently located at 117 N. Main Street. It now houses McGinty’s Jewelry and past businesses include Libson Shops Inc. (at their second location after moving a few buildings up the street), Biederman’s Furniture, Gamble Stores, and National House Furnishing Co. Any information at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  10. bagger dave’s has some vintage photos of downtown cape.don’t know where they got them. libson’s shop was smaller at one time.then in the late 60’s? it was redone with the staircase. my older sisters would shop there.i thought gamble’s was out in town plaza? you can ask some of the long time merchants downtown. their families may not have owned a business back then but they are of the age that remembers where the different stores were.on the corner same side as mginty’s was st.charles pharamcy..the osterlohs book store.mode o day dress shop was across the street.little place. a friend of mine bought a old manniquin when mode o day closed in the early 70’s it still had on a dress from the 40’s and highheeled shoes that were clear…10 bucks..

  11. I am the lucky student who chose to do the Hecht building at 107 N. Main. I was just wondering if anyone has interesting stories or old photos of the building they wouldn’t mind sharing. Please feel free to contact me at I really enjoy your photos Professor Steinhoff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *