Cape River Heritage Museum

Cape River Heritage Museum 04-11-2014Friday night was an open house at the Cape River Heritage Museum. I was prepared to say I hadn’t been in there before, but there was a Willard Duncan Vandiver display with a quote I recalled having seen on an earlier visit and had stolen for my office wall.

I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats,

and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me.

I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.

Whenever a new vendor started his spiel, I’d hold up my hand and point to the quote.

Building has long Cape history

Cape River Heritage Museum 04-11-2014Taxpayers approved a $7.000 tax levy in 1907 to build a new police station and jail. After that, the fire department was added to the plans, and the building opened in 1909.

Conveniently located across the street was the Wood Building, which has been described as arguably Cape’s most infamous house of ill repute.The building, if not its former trade, has been restored.

The River Room

Cape River Heritage Museum 04-11-2014One of the most interesting exhibits is the huge Ary Marbain mural “Metrapolis,” donated by The Missourian and restored by artist Craig Thomas. The perspective is a little off, so it’s fun and challenging to identify the landmark buildings, many now gone, that are in the mural. For more information, you can visit the museum’s website.

Museum hours

Cape River Heritage Museum 04-11-2014A recent Missourian story said the building is open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The museum website says that is from mid-March through mid-December. That must be why I’ve only visited it once in years; it was always closed when I wanted to drop in.

Shameless plug: The gift shop DOES carry my book Smelterville: A Work in Progress. It’s also available at Annie Laurie’s Antiques at Broadway and Frederick.

Lily pond still there

Cape River Heritage Museum 04-11-2014The small lily pond behind the old fire station looks a little rough after the harsh winter, but it still could pass for the one I was photographed with over six decades ago. As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.



5 Replies to “Cape River Heritage Museum”

  1. Sorry I couldn’t be there to give you the nickel tour Dr Steinhoff. I hope you left a stern note in the suggestion box chastising that Museum Board of lazy olf’s for having such meager hours with the doors open.
    Perhaps there was a rich Dr or lawyer browsing around that you could have berated for not leaving a blank check in the donation jar next to the wad of $20s anominously left by the opulent and generous Steinhoff Foundation.

    1. Sir Brad, I won’t question how museums run their business, but I have to admit that I can’t understand how Altenburg, population 352, can be open all but about four holidays a year, but Cape’s museum (population 38,544) is closed for months at a time.

      I would offer to leave them a huge endowment when I go toes-up, but I’m afraid inheriting debt wouldn’t help their situation much.

      Still, it’s worth a visit. I’ll go back when I can spend more time looking around.

  2. When I worked there the primary reason it was not open all year round was because the garage in the back that houses the trucks is extremely EXTREMELY poorly insulated and the cost to heat it year round was so great that they would have had to cut back their hours just to afford it.

    The Altenberg Museum has a genealogy research library and an outright historical society. The Cape Girardeau historical Society as never been affiliated with this museum, as far as I’m aware (their focus is on the Glenn House.) When people donate money to the local historical society it’s focused primarily on the local house museum rather than the local (general) museum of history.

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