Trinity Hall AKA Alt House

I have fond memories of Trinity Hall, previously know as the Alt House. I know I attended kindergarten, first and second grades there. There’s a slim chance that third grade was held there, too, but I might be wrong about that.

Mrs. Bohnsack was the kindergarten teacher; Mrs. Kelpe was the perfect first grade teacher who made every child feel loved; Miss Gade controlled her second grade pupils. I remember her as a rather severe woman who wore old-fashioned black high-topped shoes. You did not want to get on the wrong side of Miss Gade. Her sister, another Miss Gade, also taught at Trinity Lutheran School. Mrs. Froemsdorf taught third grade. She combined the nicer qualities of Mrs. Kelpe with mixture of Miss Gade’s sternness.

This photo shows the kindergarten class I wrote about earlier. Click on any photo to make it larger.

Aerial view of Trinity Lutheran School neighborhood

This aerial from around 1966 shows Trinity Lutheran School in the middle of the photo. If you look to the left side of the frame, there are a number of changes at the Broadway / Pacific intersection. The First Chance / Last Chance Saloon is gone. Just about everything west of the Esquire Theater has been turned into a parking lot. Howards has moved into the old Vandeven’s Merchantile. The Broadway Theater is at the top center of the photo.

Closeup of Trinity School

The building with the peaked roofs nestled in behind the other buildings is Trinity Hall, originally the George Alt House, built in 1903 by Capt. George E. Alt.. Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders’ From the Morgue blog has a photo of the building taken before the land was sold for the Lutheran School.

Sharon quotes historic preservation consultant Terri Foley describing the building as a two-story house influenced by the Shingle style. It may have had two stories, but it also had a sizable attic that I always wanted to explore as a kid, but there was a gate blocking off the stairway. I either didn’t have the nerve to push past it or I never found it unlatched, I don’t remember.

Fred Lynch ran a Frony picture of the kindergarten’s wooden jungle gym from 1947. The view out the window looks like the kindergarten was on the second floor, which seems right. Mrs. Kelpe’s first grade was on the first floor on the south side of the building.

Capt. Alt killed in World War I

Sharon’s story said that Capt. Alt was born in Japan in 1870, while his father was working there. The elder Alt bought 20,000 acres of land in the Cape Girardeau area in 1875. Capt. Alt came here when he was 21 to manage his father’s real estate holdings. His family held grand balls and parties in the Alt House until they left the area in 1913. The following year, he returned to England to fight the Germans in World War I. He was killed in the second Battle of Ypres on April 15, 1915, becoming what some have said was the first Cape Girardeau casualty of the war.

I’m not sure where we heard the story, but someone told us kids that “the Englishman” who lived in the house was determined that he would never sleep off English soil, so the legs of his bed were placed in cans containing soil from his native land. I’ve never seen any written account of that, but it was a cool story, nonetheless.

The Lutheran congregation bought the property for $10,000 the summer of Capt. Alt’s death. After my generation attended class there, the school was converted to a youth center in 1959. By 1967, it was beginning to look pretty shabby inside.

The smell of wet wool on radiators

Looking at the radiator on the left side of the photo brings back the memories of wet wool drying on hot radiators on cold, snowy days.

Destruction vs deconstruction

Somebody asked me the other day what the difference was between “destruction” and “deconstuction.” My first response was to say that the latter was some new high-falutin’ made-up word. Then, when I looked at this photos, the difference became clear.

THIS is destruction. No pains were taken to salvage any of the beautiful details of the structure. Everything was to be ground into small pieces and hauled off.

Historical pile of rubble

Yet one more piece of Cape Girardeau’s past was reduced to splinters. Deconstruction would have involved a slower, more precise disassembly with the goal of saving as many features as possible for reuse.

I’ve been looking for the photos I shot of the wrecking ball crashing into the building, but they’re proving elusive. They’ll show up some day.

2010 aerial of Trinity Lutheran School

This aerial of the neighborhood looking to the east was taken November 6, 2010.

Other Trinity Lutheran School stories

Photo gallery of Trinity Hall

Here are more photos of the razing of Trinity Hall / the Alt House. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.



Alma Schrader School Turns 50 This Month

I  saw a story in The Missourian that Alma Schrader School is going to hold a 50th Anniversary Celebration March 11.

The school was on my old paper route. I guess the reason I always thought of it as being a “new” school was that it WAS new – only a couple of years old – when I was slinging newspapers in the neighborhoods around it.

I don’t have any pictures from when the school opened, as far as I know, but I was there for what I assume was the first day of school on Sept. 6, 1967, if my film sleeve label is correct. I’m also guessing that this is a kindergarten class, based on the signs.

This poor boy never had a chance

I’m going to bend the rule that “good photographers never show their bad pictures” by including some that are a little on the marginal side. You may spot yourself, a sibling or a neighbor and won’t mind if the exposure is a little off or it could be sharper.

The difference between boys and girls

Gender differences show up even in kindergarten. The boy has this “Oh, my god, I’ve got a girl hanging off the end of my arm” look on his face. His buddy on the right is thinking, “Neat sneakers.”

The girl in the background is placing an imaginary order for her bridesmaid dress.

Who was Alma Schrader?

It dawned on me that I’ve said or written Alma Schrader School scores of times without wondering, “Who the heck is Alma Schrader and what did she do to get a school named after her?”

It’s almost like memorizing someone by naming something after them turns them into a phrase instead of a person.

The Missourian had a long front page obituary for Miss Schrader when she died January 15, 1959. She taught in Cape Girardeau for 50 years, including serving 34 years as principal at May Greene School. (Quick pop quiz: who was May Greene?)

Miss Schrader was born in 1886, the daughter of a shoe cobbler who had a shop on North Middle. She started her teaching career in 1906 at Old Lorimier School, where she taught for three years. She spent three years as a teacher at the old Jefferson School at South Ellis and Jefferson; she was promoted to principal, a post she held until 1921. When the new May Greene School opened in 1921, she was named the school’s first principal. She continued to work with the school system after her retirement in 1956.

UPDATE to Alma Schrader Celebration

Follow this link to see pictures from the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Gallery of Alma Schrader School Kindergarten Class 1967

Click on any picture to make it larger, then click on the left of right side of the photo to step through the gallery.