First Baptist Church – Wehking Alumni Center

Wehking Alumni Center - 1st Baptist Church 04-25-2014When I was working at The Athens Messenger with Bob Rogers, we had a technique we used when we wanted to goof off. We’d shoot something like a old general store in a decaying coal town and run a photo of the outside of the building along with a brief description and a promise “tomorrow we’ll go inside.”

I’m going to do the same thing with the Aleen Vogel Wehking Alumni Center, formerly the First Baptist Church at 926 Broadway. Tomorrow, “we’ll go inside” to see  the plaster reproductions of ancient, Medieval and modern works of art that Louis Houck bought at the end of 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

Third First Baptist Church

Wehking Alumni Center - 1st Baptist Church 04-25-2014This building was really the third home of the First Baptist Church.

Billy Sunday swelled ranks

Wehking Alumni Center - 1st Baptist Church 04-25-2014The congregation had swelled to 719 by the time it moved to 926 Broadway. Part of the growth – an increase of 258 – was attributed to Billy Sunday’s revival in Cape in 1926. Here’s The Missourian’s front page account of Billy Sunday’s arrival in town.

University bought building in 2003

Wehking Alumni Center - First Baptist Church 04-28-2014The university bought the church in 2003 for $3.5 million. The congregation relocated in 2006, and the university remodeled portions of the building in order to occupy it in 2007. The stained glass windows remained.

Photo gallery of Wehking Alumni Center / First Baptist Church

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery. And, don’t forget, we’ll go inside tomorrow.

6 Replies to “First Baptist Church – Wehking Alumni Center”

  1. Some Church members came to me and asked about a nine foot by nine foot stained glass panel that was down stairs in their recreation room that had been there many years but mostly unseen because of inoperative lighting behind it. They were trying to decide on leaving it for the University or moving it to the new church. It was donated to the Church by the city of Cape Girardeau for the use of their building for many of the city’s functions. It is made of hand blown glass that is painted and kiln fired for permanence. I resized it to fit the new church at Lexington and Cape Rock Drive and moved it to a location where I could properly light and maintain it. It is now a focal point in the center of the building. I also moved and mounted the marble plaque at the West entrance. After the University took control of the building, I was hired by Edgewater Glass to clean and repair many of the exterior stained glass windows. I’ve also cleaned and repaired the stained glass windows in the River Campus and Academic Hall buildings for the University. The University has been very active in saving these works of art for present and future generations.

  2. It is for sure a landmark. As a UTE, I wanted to play church basketball and my church did not have a team. Solution, to play church ball you had to be on the church Sunday School rolls. To do that you had to got to Sunday School three times at a Church. Solution and problem solved, I attended Sunday School at First Baptist and I was in! I played with Bob White and Mike Rodgers, that I remember, and we had a pretty good team and I had a real good time.

  3. First Baptist Church at 926 Broadway, was a big part in my growing up years in Cape. I began with the cradle roll 1944, (along with ’62 Harold Stone). Then topped it off with our wedding, George and I, in 1967. I can close my eyes and visualize every room and corridor of that grand building. Lots of memories!
    Alene and Walter Wehking were long time friends of my parents.

  4. Dick McClard: are you Richie McClard from Oriole and the store? Mother Hazel McClard? We’re related; I remember you as a little boy when we would visit Oriole – my parents were Dewey and Myrtle Watkins Allen.

  5. Hello Anita. Not the same fella. You are in our genealogy book though, and we are distantly related back through the Abernathys. If you are local to me in Cape Girardeau, it would be fun to show you the thousands of pages of people related to you. With you living in that area at one time, you are going to know a lot of people in the photos. Give me a call. 573-382-2101

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