The last time I wrote about 101 North Main it was because it was on the list of the most endangered buildings in Cape Girardeau. I told Mother that I expected it would be a parking lot the next time I hit town. The upper story was leaning out over sidewalk and a big cable looked like it was holding the building together.
I am happy to report that the historic building has been pulled back from the abyss. It’s got a long way to go, but I’m not afraid to walk next to it now. The Common Pleas Courthouse is up the hill on the left and the building that was once Hecht’s Department Store is on the right. You can click on the images to make them larger.
The building has been repaired to the point the restraining cable is no longer needed and the plywood tunnel that protected passersby from possible falling bricks has been removed.
The old building had been the Sturdivant Bank (the oldest bank in Southeast Missouri), the site of Cape’s first long distance phone call, Minnen’s Dress Shop and Cape Wiggery, among other things. Here is more of 101 North Main’s history. Its neighbor, the St. Charles Hotel, home to General Grant in the Civil War, was torn down in 1967.
The Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission announced its list of 11 of the city’s most endangered buildings in hopes of raising awareness about the building’s uncertain futures.
One of the buildings is the old Cape Cut Rate Drug Store at 635 Good Hope, the southeast corner of Good Hope and Sprigg. I’ve been shooting the building for at least three or four years, but I kept putting off doing a story until I got the photo I wanted. I guess it’s time to go with what I’ve got.
Going to be teen club
I was on a bike ride a couple of summers ago when I noticed a dumpster in front of the building and some work going on. I stuck my head inside and was told that someone was going to fix it up for use as a teen hangout to give neighborhood kids a place to go. I didn’t have the equipment with me to shoot in the dark, so I said I’d come back. That was the last time I saw any activity in the place.
Roof peeling off
In the few minutes I spent inside the old drug store, I could see that the roof had been leaking for quite some time and that the interior was charred like it had caught fire at some point. I happened by the place on a windy day and say big pieces of roofing material flapping in the wind, so I know where the water came from.
A regular stop
No telling how many times I passed through these doors because we spent a fair amount of time in the Haarig district.
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.
I was sure that the inside of the old Broadway Theater would be a disaster with the roof falling in and debris all over the place. When I got my first glimpse of the interior, I was transported back to the days of Saturday matinee movies in a grand theater. It’s ragged, but it’s still grand.
Bank, telephone exchange building, Minnen’s Dress Shop, Cape Wiggery. The old building at 101 North Main Street has been many things and has some interesting connections to other pieces of Southeast Missouri history. Its neighbor, the St. Charles Hotel, home to General Grant in the Civil War, was torn down in 1967.