Cape’s Hospitals

This is my last in an installment of links to help out Dr. Lily Santoro’s Local Techniques in History class. The students have to research a list of local landmarks. So far, I’ve helped them with

Today we’ll look at Cape’s two major hospitals: Southeast and St. Francis.

St. Francis Hospital

Grotto behind St. Francis HospitalI was born in St. Francis, was treated for pneumonia there when I was a toddler, and had my tonsils yanked there. I’ve been searching like crazy for photos I took inside the place just before it was torn down, but they must have been filed someplace where I “would be sure not to lose them.”

Southeast Hospital

Southeast Hospital at night from Capaha Park 11-16-2011The hospital on the hill overlooking Capaha Park.

Stories I haven’t done

I hate to tell the students who have these topics that I haven’t written anything about them that I can remember.

  • Post Office, 310 Frederick St.
  • Wehking Alumni Center
  • Cape Girardeau Municipal Court
  • Missouri Park
  • Crisp Hall
  • Baptist Student Union



St. Francis Addition

St Francis Hospital addition 10-19-2013_8642It seems like every time I come to Cape the hospitals are getting bigger.

Wife Lila thought I needed new shoes.

(The old ones were only four years old. I had to admit that the right one felt somewhat uncomfortable, but then I found the problem was a nail that had gone all the way through the sole and insole and was sticking up about 1/16 of an inch into the footbed. I tried to convince her that taking out the nail would make them perfectly serviceable for another four years, but she disagreed. For what it’s worth, my old Red Wing work boots would have shrugged that nail off like nobody’s business.)

Anyway, on the way to the shoe emporium, I saw that another big piece of St. Francis Hospital had jumped out of the ground since my last visit.

$127 Million project

St Francis Hospital addition 10-19-2013_8653When I photographed the site in February, I found a Missourian story that said this was part of a $127 million expansion and renovation project.

Earlier St. Francis stories


Cape Cut Rate Endangered

Old Cape Cut Rate 635 Good Hope 04-16-2011The 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

Cape Cut Rate 635 Good Hope 10-24-2011I 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

Cape Cut Rate 635 Good Hope 04-21-2011In 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

Cape Cut Rate 635 Good Hope 10-24-2011

No telling how many times I passed through these doors because we spent a fair amount of time in the Haarig district.

Dad’s construction office was in Farmers and Merchants Bank, the place we did our banking.

I got my hair cut by Ed Unger at the Stylerite Barbershop.

We bought our ice from the Pure Ice Company

Suedkum Hardware was better than Disney World. (Or course, Disney World hadn’t been invented yet.)

You hoped you weren’t sick enough to see Dr. Herbert

If it was REALLY serious, you went to St. Francis Hospital

We could buy clothes at Schades and shop for groceries at Hirsch’s Midtown.

At Sprigg and William, in the next block up, you could go to church at St. Mary’s, buy a car at Clark Buick and a TV from Lorberg’s.

In later years, we’d stop in to see Doris.

What is Haarig?

Cape Cut Rate 635 Good Hope 04-21-2011Haarig was the heavily German section of Cape Girardeau. You can read about the history of Harrig and its buildings in this National Register of Historic Places registration form. Here is a list of last year’s endangered buildings.

Old Jefferson School has been removed because it was torn down.

635 Good Hope Photo Gallery

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

Civil War Fort A

Everybody who grew up in Cape learned about Fort D. Maybe you even went on a field trip there.

If that was D, were there Forts A, B, C and E? Well, there wasn’t a Fort E, but A, B and C existed.

Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders wrote about efforts to preserve Fort A, which was atop the bluff at the end of what is now Bellvue Street. Her research, as always, is worth reading. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

She’s not a dry historian, either. she likes to toss in tidbits like, “A 1922 story reports 12-year old Wilson Gibbs chased a rabbit into a a cave at the site. While the rabbit made its escape, Gibbs did stumble upon two jugs of moonshine. A law-abiding youth, Gibbs turned the illegal liquor in to Justice of the Peace C.M. Gilbert. There’s no mention of whether anyone claimed the whiskey.

Scenic lookout proposed

In 1960, Sharon reports, there was talk about creating a scenic overlook/turnaround at the end of Bellvue. The project never got anywhere.

Here’s what’s on the right side of the street today. That apartment building has been there since at least the mid-60s, because Missourian reporter Arlene Southern lived in one of the first floor apartments.

Fort B became SEMO

If you have good eyesight, you MIGHT be able to spot a gray marker in the median of Normal Avenue just east of the red brick crosswalk between Kent Library and Academic Hall. That marker notes the location of Fort B, which was to guard the Perryville and Jackson Road approaches to Cape Girardeau.

St. Francis Hospital site was Fort C

The old St. Francis Hospital site in the middle of the marked streets was the location of Fort C. It’s occupied by the Fort Hope housing development today.

I’ve written about some of the landmarks in this photo.