Murtaugh Park Expansion

Murtaugh Park construction 07-12-2013As many of you have figured out, I’m in Cape for a few weeks. When I’m here, I drive around like crazy trying to bag as much new material as possible to dole out when I return home to Florida.

From time to time, I have even managed to scoop The Missourian. (Of course, as I point out to bike riders who brag about overtaking another rider, “It’s only a race if the other guy knows it.)

I thought I might have a chance of catching Photo Buddy Fred Lynch asleep this afternoon when I drove past what I’ve dubbed the Historical Triangle.

Have catskinners become deere slayers?

Murtaugh Park construction 07-12-2013

There was a artist on a bulldozer who we’d have called a “catskinner” in the days when yellow Caterpillar equipment was ubiquitous on job sites. I’ve seen enough dirt pushed around to judge he knew what he was doing.

Since he’s on a Deere dozer, I guess that would make him a “deere slayer,” but that doesn’t have the same ring. The sign in the foreground proclaims the narrow strip of grass to be Murtaugh Park. The Red House is in the background.

Drat! James Baughn beat me

Murtaugh Park construction 07-12-2013Right there in front of me was a flurry of dump trucks, jackhammers, front end loaders and guys leaning on shovels. All I had to do now was to figure out what was going on.

Drat! Missourian webmaster James Baughn, who with Fred and Sharon Sanders, are must-read Missourian bloggers, beat me to the story. He deserves the traffic, so get the full story from Baughn. (If you REALLY want to be distracted, go to his Bridgehunter website. There’s nowhere else like it to find interesting factoids about bridges.)

The short version is that making Main Street open to two-way traffic made Aquamsi Street redundant between William and Merriwether Streets. The workers were ripping up Aquamsi so grass could replace asphalt, resulting in Murtaugh Park nearly doubling in size. (Of course, that will last until the City Fathers and Mothers decide to make Main one-way again in a few years.)

I stumbled across another story that is right up Baughn’s alley. I hope he reads it here before I see it appear in his blog.

Stories about Murtaugh Park

Apple Creek Presbyterian Church

Apple Creek Presbyterian Church 04-19-2011_5685Missourian blogger James Baughn did one of his “Blogs with few words” on the Gaslight Sing at Apple Creek Presbyterian Church.

Ramblin’ buddy LaFern Stiver and I visited the Pocahontas church and cemetery in 2011. I’ll follow James’ lead and run just a few words and let the pictures tell the story.

Area settled by McLain Clan

Apple Creek Presbyterian Church 04-19-2011_5717LaFern, a McLain, provided this background information: This area was settled early by the McLain Clan, from the Isle of Mull in Scotland. The family came from S. Carolina and established itself here before 1815 which were the earliest tax records. Alexander McLain, was one of four brothers who fought in the Revolutionary War. John, the older brother was killed as he fought for our freedom. For his sacrifice, his family was given one half bushel of salt.

Slave buried in “hallowed ground”

Apple Creek Presbyterian Church 04-19-2011_5757Alexander, the brother who settled in Missouri, is buried in Apple Creek Cemetery next to his slave Peter. How he got a slave buried in hallowed ground is beyond me. Peter’s grave is encircled with large stones which could not have been easy to do. We do not know where his wife is buried. Records of Alexander’s trek and his request for pension are located in the Archive Center of SEMO University.

On an earlier trip, we visited the Indian Creek Community and McLain’s Chapel where I heard about a mix of Revolutionary War soldiers, Indian maidens, the Trail of Tears and a Civil War atrocity all wrapped up in about 640 acres.

Primitive 19th Century experience

Apple Creek Presbyterian Church 04-19-2011_5768James points out that the church, which has neither electric lights nor indoor plumbing, provides the most authentic 19th Century experience of any local church. You can read more about its history in this piece by Frank Nickell.

Church and cemetery photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the side to move through the gallery.

Academic Hall Gets New Hat

Academic Hall dome 03-02-2013Academic Hall has been undergoing some major fixing. Surprisingly enough, the university hasn’t used “structural problems” as an excuse to tear down the iconic building as they seem so prone to do with other Cape landmarks.

Here’s a view of the dome from the north, looking south. You don’t often see it from this side.

Academic Hall Stories

 

 

SEMO Plans to Erase Landmark

River Campus 10-20-2008 First handball court west of the Mississippi RiverThere were a number of things that let me know I was getting close to home: going down that last hill at Thebes Gap, catching the first glimpse of the Mississippi River as it curved around Gray’s Point, spotting the Common Pleas Courthouse and the dome of Academic Hall poking above the trees… Once we made the white-knuckle passage across the Traffic Bridge, I’d look off to the left, not to see St. Vincent’s College, but to spy the strange brick structure on its lawn. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but it was a sign that I was home.

When I researched a piece on the 5th anniversary of the River Campus, I discovered a report filed with the National Register of Historic Places saying the court was constructed in 1843 and was supposed to have been the first handball court west of the Mississippi River.

James Baughn reads the fine print

Aerial photos of Southeast Missouri State University River Campus areaThe December 16 Missourian ran a routine story about the SEMO regents approving 96,000 square feet of new construction at the River Campus. There was an aerial photo overlay, but I’m sure most readers didn’t look at it closely. I’m guilty as charged.

Missourian webmaster James Baughn, who does one of three must-read blogs in the paper, is one of those detail kind of guys who notices things. He discovered that the new construction will erase one of the oldest structures in Cape Girardeau, one built by Joseph Lansman. Who is he? Thanks to Baughn’s research, we find that he was the guy who was probably responsible for SEMO being in Cape in the first place.

Baughn notes “[Louis] Houck was able to work his magic to steer the newly formed Board of Regents toward Cape, but Lansman helped seal the deal. He agreed to donate land he owned at the site of Fort B, the old Civil War fortification on a hilltop north of town, well away from the mosquito-laden swamps. During a crucial meeting at the St. Charles Hotel (built by Lansman), the regents made the final selection of Lansman’s site for the new college.”

SEMO, which touts one of the few undergraduate historic preservation programs in the country, assures us that they will incorporate a “select” number of bricks from the handball court into the facade of the new River Campus building. If they were in Philadelphia, they’d probably scrap The Liberty Bell and incorporate the clapper as a door knocker. I mean, why hang on to that old thing? Nobody’s going to ring it with that crack in it.

Holy Crapola! I’ve been ripped off

Southeast Missouri State University River Campus areaI followed a link on Baugn’s blog to a SEMO publication that details the constuction project. Guess what they have on the first two pages? This copyrighted aerial photo showing the River Campus I shot November 6, 2010. I can’t wait to make some phone calls tomorrow morning to SEMO and the Lawrence Group to talk about appropriating photographs for commercial use without compensation. (As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Frame Two of my purloined photo shows clearly that they are targeting the lawn and handball court area that gives the site its quiet beauty, second only to the trees area and terraces overlooking the river. (They’ll go next and SEMO will sell “preservation toothpicks” made of the trees.) It would appear to me that there is plenty of space occupied by parking lots that would be perfect for the expansion. Put two floors of parking under the new buildings and you could leave the lawns and terraces alone.

Thanks, Mr. Baughn, for the heads-up.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.