High in the Common Pleas Courthouse

When you look at the Common Pleas Courthouse from Spanish Street, you hardly notice the windows in the dome. (You can click the photos to make them larger.)

Looking east from the courthouse

If you’re lucky enough to hook up with guys like IT director Eric McGowen and public works director Don McQuay, folks who have the right keys and know where the hidden passageways are, you can see some impressive sights. I’m glad Friend Shari and I picked a day when it wasn’t 107 outside for our tour. Even on a relatively cool (sub-100) day, it was hot and dusty. The tiny and winding staircases were made for smaller people than me.

Here’s a view down Themis Street. The greenish building on the left side of Spanish and Themis was Doyle’s Hat Shop. One of the Teen Age Clubs was in the building across the street from it. The tall, red brick building that was the Sturdivant Bank may not be with us for long. It’s on the Endangered Building List. A steel cable is keeping bricks from the top floor from raining down on Main Street.

View to the west

This is the view in the opposite direction. The Civil War fountain and statue is to the right of the roof. Don shared an interesting story about it when we were at the Jackson Courthouse. We’ll save it for another day.

DR. C.E. Schuchert’s bandstand

The bandstand dedicated to Dr. C.E. Schuchert and the KFVS tower can be seen to the northwest. The view from the 11th floor of the KFVS building is pretty spectacular, too. There’s a photo looking back toward the courthouse that provides an interesting counterpoint to this one.


21 Replies to “High in the Common Pleas Courthouse”

  1. It’s pretty handy to know friends in high places, isn’t it, Ken? The Common Pleas Courthouse is a treasure; I hope it’s in good condition. I can’t imagine Cape without it.
    Can you get the keys to the Academic Hall dome on the Semo campus? I’ve always been curious about that one, too.
    These old buildings are priceless! They don’t build ’em like that anymore! I’m glad you’re documenting them while they’re still standing.

  2. As youth I did get into the Dome at the college. There is big wooden catwalk around the dome and you could see out the windows, the veiw was pretty good, but not as good as I imaganied as youth. If you can get in let me know! I am game for and adventure like that!

    1. We’re not the skinny little guys we were back in those days. I’m not sure both of us should go up at the same time. I’d hate to be responsible for one of Cape’s iconic landmarks to collapse.

  3. …and I never thought to look out of the windows on the dome on the court house! I never even knew there were windows in teh dome! Good work lad. Now you can say “you have looked where few others have dared”!…or something like that. Thanks giving us a look at something I never would have thought of ever!

  4. I worked one summer at the public library when it was still located there. I spent many a lunch break in the gazebo or by the fountain. One of my favorite spots in Cape!

    1. Pat Sommers, my high school debate partner, worked there. That gave us access on nights and weekends when the place was closed. You couldn’t have asked for a better place to do research in the pre-Internet days.

  5. As a student janitor at SEMO in the 70’s, I had keys to the false closet where the stairs to the dome were hidden. Which closet in Academic Hall was it? Here’s your answer! It’s the closet on the third floor, just to the right of the steps going into the balcony of the auditorium. In the dome you will find the autographs of visitors dating back decades. You’ll also see the skeletons of pigeons that found their way in, but not their way out. Back then, we (the janitors) would open the closet for anyone that wanted to go up. Nowadays, with security the way it is and everybody on panic-alert, you may have to find someone with a little more authority to gain access.

  6. You or Shari could have cleaned the windows a little so the shot was clearer don’t you think? 🙂

    1. Shari was willing to carry some of my gear and help me light stuff, but I had no desire to find our just how high my tripod would end up if I had suggested that she do windows.

  7. I think all old domes are very similar. I have been in the dome of the Jackson Courtouse and it too had a lot of pigeon stuff, webs, dust and dirt. But the views are nice!

  8. My dad (Stan Grimm) had his office in the Common Pleas Courthouse from 1973 – 1987 when he was Circuit Judge of Cape and Bollinger Counties. I had the opportunity to go up into the tower several times and your photos brought back fond memories of the views. Climbing the old wooden stairs in the tower is not for the faint of heart, as I recall.

    There is also a dirt-floor dungeon in the basement that was used during the Civil War. Pictures of dirt may not be very exciting for your web site, however.

  9. What a picture! I have always loved the courthouse and the view. It is beautiful in all seasons. Thanks for the view “from the top”. Sharon

  10. Ken, I loved your picture of the courthouse sitting majestically high upon the hill! My computer is getting filled up with wonderful pictures, thanks to you! I love looking back at the carefree Cape Girardeau as it looked when I was a young girl. I always look forward to the next adventure from you. Thanks for keeping us informed and intertained with all of your stories.

  11. I remember my grandmother taking me down to the band stand on summer evenings when I was very small, probably 3 or less. I was always in awe of the soldier on the statue. That area holds some very special memories for me. Thank you so much for the pictures. I haven’t lived in Cape since 1965, but it will always be home to me.

  12. I made many trips up those many, many stairs to the dome in Academic Hall. Wish I had taken pictures!!!

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