(photo: John Guenther)
(photos: Mark Abeln, Ryan Brooks)
2013 List Announced at the Henry Miller House in Bloomfield, Stoddard County
Missouri Preservation announced its list of the State’s Most Endangered Historic Places for 2013 at a press conference held at the Henry Miller House, 106 Cape Road in Bloomfield, Missouri 63825. The announcement was made at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. The Miller House was constructed some time between 1845 and 1849 for Henry Miller, a civic leader and merchant who was prominent in the early swamp land reclamation movement in Southeast Missouri and was also involved in the creation and promotion of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad Company in the 1850s. Known architecturally as an “I-House,” it is believed to be the oldest in Stoddard County and one of the oldest houses in Southeast Missouri.
This house was constructed some time between 1845 and 1849 for Henry Miller, a civic leader and merchant who was prominent in the early swamp land reclamation movement in Southeast Missouri and was also involved in the creation and promotion of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad Company in the 1850s. Known architecturally as an “I-House,” it is believed to be the oldest in Stoddard County and one of the oldest houses in Southeast Missouri. The interior of the house retains much of its original material, with the exception of minor repairs. The house was used as a residence continually from the time it was constructed until about 1979 and has been vacant ever since. The house has since fallen into general disrepair from neglect, some siding is missing, and the porch collapsed and was removed. A $200,000.00 grant was received several years ago to restore the house, but after one of the contractors failed to produce, the grant was forfeited. Student volunteers from the Historic Preservation Association at Southeast Missouri State University have been working to stabilize the Miller House. It is hoped that Missouri’s Most Endangered List will bring added recognition to this historic place, that the building can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and that it will be able to once again garner economic favor through a broader system of support. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Schmitt
This house originated as a simple two-room building constructed ca. 1824, and the substantial brick addition was added in about 1860. The building is a center hall Gothic Revival style house, and is a rare example of this architectural style both in this community and statewide. Located outside Liberty Missouri in Clay County, it is actually situated within the city limits of Kansas City and is possibly the oldest structure in the Kansas City area. Three Gables has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and in 1976, as part of the country’s bicentennial, the house was listed as one of Clay County’s seventy-six most significant historic buildings. Since its sale in 2000, the surrounding farmland has been developed for residences, apartments, and commercial enterprises. The owners from 2000 through 2013 had intended to raze the house and sell the land for development. Thus the house has not been maintained for over a decade. These owners recently lost the land through foreclosure, and the property was sold at private auction. The new owners, a real estate conglomerate from California, are investigating demolition. Due to its location in a dangerous curve on Missouri 291 Highway, and to the surrounding residential development that has occurred in the last decade, it is unlikely that the property could now be sold for commercial development. It is hoped this nomination will help the new owners understand the importance of this structure and call for its preservation in future development plans.
Constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Ozark Community Building was dedicated in July of 1933. The material used for the exterior walls of the building is native fieldstone, referred to locally as “giraffe stone.” The Community Building became obsolete when the City opened the new Ozark Community Center in 2009. While the building has a sensitive owner in the Christian County Museum and Historical Society, it has now been vacant for a number of years. Several areas of its fieldstone walls are in need of re-pointing, and the roof is compromised and leaking. Lack of interior environmental control has caused moisture and humidity to create an unhealthy atmosphere. A fundraising drive to fix the roof, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning has begun so that the Museum can eventually get an occupancy permit. It is hoped that listing on Missouri’s Most Endangered will develop a public awareness of the challenges to this property and emphasize to former and current residents of Ozark the importance of restoration/renovation of this important historic resource.
The land on which the Kaes house sits was part of a Spanish land grant to Samuel Pruitt, who was one of the first English-speaking settlers west of the Mississippi. By 1862, most of Pruitt’s holdings had been divided between the Lewis, Kaehs (Kaes) and Coons families. The house was sited on land belonging to the Kaeses. There is still a private cemetery on the property bearing Kaes family inscriptions. The house is designated a St. Louis County Landmark and is now part of Castlewood State Park. It suffers sorely from lack of maintenance. Acquired by the State Parks Department in 1980, one year later the first proposal to pay for its restoration started through the bureaucratic maze. Finally in 1986 $172,000.00 was allocated by the state legislature for the house, but officials shifted money to other needs at the park. In the ensuing years, time has not been kind to State Parks budgets and the house has continued to fall into disrepair. It is hoped that this nomination will call attention to the need for increased funding for Missouri’s State Parks and historic buildings that have been acquired into the State Parks system.
Camp Zoe is sited on a hill overlooking Sinking Creek, a tributary of the Current River. The 350 acres on which the camp is located abuts the Ozark National Scenic Riverways where Sinking Creek meets the Current. Camp Zoe was opened in 1929 as an all girls summer camp and eventually was made coed. Original buildings dating to 1929 include the Lodge, where activities were held (included a library), the Dining Hall, the “Old Shelter”, a mostly open air shelter where activities were held, the Stables, Cabins I, II & III and several service and out-buildings. The lodge was the most significant structure, sited at the top of the hill overlooking the camp grounds and constructed of native Ozark stone and timbers harvested from the site. Over the years four other cabins were added. Camp Zoe closed as a summer camp after the summer of 1986 due to escalating insurance costs and associated rises in camp tuition, which had begun to cause the number of campers to dwindle in the early 1980s. After a few years of renting the camp for retreats and large camping groups, longtime owners Jack and Lois Peters sold Camp Zoe to a religious organization. That organization made little to no changes to the camp and grounds, using it primarily for summer retreats through the 1990s. In 2004 members of the Grateful Dead tribute band The Schwag purchased the camp. By this time, many of the buildings were beginning to become run down due to deferred maintenance. The Schwag addressed some issues and made simple repairs to the cabins and showering facilities. The Schwag cleared some ground north of the main camp for their annual “Schwagstock” music festivals, but the camp itself largely maintained its original integrity. In early November 2010 the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency raided the camp after the final show at the annual “Spookstock” music festival. Following the raid court documents were filed alleging that the music festivals at Camp Zoe were the site of widespread, rampant use and sales of illegal drugs. Camp Zoe was seized by the federal government. While the historic camp is not in immediate danger of destruction, it faces an uncertain future brought about by the federal seizure. Many of the historic buildings, which have suffered from deferred maintenance and partial repairs are in a fragile state. It is hoped that listing Camp Zoe on Missouri’s list of Most Endangered Places could bring wider attention to a place that could be lost to neglect but has the potential of once again functioning as a camping/lodging or retreat facility offering visitors an escape from the daily barrage of our busy lives.
This house, completed 1859-60 was designed by architect, Patrick Walsh and constructed for James Clemens, who was a highly successful businessman and cousin to writer Samuel Clemens. The house is listed on the National Register and is a St. Louis City Landmark. This imposing Palladian-style villa with extensive cast iron ornamentation represents one of the most intact antebellum mansions in the St. Louis area. After the death of the illustrious owner in 1888, the house and furnishings were sold to the Sisters of Carondelet, a chapel addition was constructed, and the property became the Convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The Sisters enlarged the property to include a dormitory and a Georgian Palladian chapel, which was designed by Aloysius Gillick and completed in 1896. Beginning in 1949 the buildings were used by a number of Roman Catholic communities and charities, and in 1987 it was sold to the Berean Missionary Baptist Association and then in 2005 to the Universal Vietnamese Buddhist Association. In these recent years, the complex has been used as a homeless shelter and the buildings have received little or no maintenance. A 1984 inspection report suggested that the cast iron used in the façade had become cracked and brittle, allowing water to be trapped behind. The quoins at the corners of the building were reportedly in bad condition, were missing fragments and cracking at the anchor bolts. A conservative price tag for repairs needed at that time was $100,000.00. Since then the building has transferred hands a number of times, the most recent being to the developer of the proposed “NorthSide Regeneration” project. Representatives of NorthSide Regeneration removed the cast iron façade of the house years ago when it was promised the building would be renovated. Since then, nothing has been done to preserve or stabilize the house or additions, and the roof of the nearby chapel has collapsed. It is hoped that this nomination will encourage NorthSide Regeneration to complete rehabilitation of the Clemens House and to include preservation as a focal point of its future plans in the NorthSide Regeneration area.
The Frizel-Welling House was begun in 1818 by Joseph Frizel as a modest Cape Cod style house. That same year Mr. Frizel married Sarah Bollinger, the only child of Frederick Bollinger of Whitewater Missouri, where the now famous Bollinger Mill had been built. They owned the house only until 1820, when it was purchased by a Mr. Von Phul, and yet another owner before being purchased by Charles Welling in 1838. Mr. Welling purchased it as a new home for he and his bride, the former Elizabeth Frizel, daughter of original owners, Joseph and Sarah Frizel. The Wellings substantially enlarged the house, adding a large two story front-gabled Greek Revival structure. A skirmish occurred in Jackson during the Civil War, and a bullet in a wash stand which remains in the house. In addition, a “mini-ball” was found in the side yard. In 1864 the First Presbyterian Church was organized in the parlor of the Frizel-Welling home. The family’s generosity is well-known throughout the town’s history, and for a time the parlor also served as the home for Jackson’s first public library. The descendants of the Frizels and Wellings still hold title to the property. Over the years, generations of the family have brought and left personal belongings in the home. The house’s history is evident today as you walk through the house. Every room appears complete as it did many years ago, with well-aged books filling the bookshelves and remarkable pieces of history at every turn, with pieces of history found simply by opening a drawer or storage chest.. The building has recently been put up for sale and there has already been one major threat to the Frizel-Welling House. A sales contract for the asking price was received by the family by an interested party who had sought to demolish the house for a parking lot. Knowing this, the family rejected the contract. The State of Missouri has been approached about perhaps acquiring the property for a State Historic Site, given the extraordinary collection of books, furniture and other family belongings at the House, as well as its family connection to the nearby Bollinger Mill SHS. The Most Endangered designation would bring further recognition to this site and to the need for timely action to save and preserve the building as well as its amazing collection of artifacts, and may even convince the State to acquire the building as a State Historic Site. Photo courtesy of James Baughn.
Greenwood Cemetery was established in 1874 as the first commercial African-American cemetery in the St. Louis area. After emancipation and before the establishment of Greenwood, the majority of African-Americans in this area did not have a choice of burial location for their deceased family members – due to Jim Crow laws the potters fields and other city-owned cemeteries were the final resting places not only for indigents, but also for people of color no matter what their circumstances or status. Greenwood, with its rural location, park-like setting and 31.85 acres of beautiful well-kept grounds was a welcome change for the small but growing black middle class. Maintenance at the cemetery seems to have ended in the 1980s, as the cemetery showed a drastic loss in revenue due to decreased burials. In 1993 burials ceased at the cemetery due to deteriorating conditions and eventually vegetation was allowed to grow wild in all of Greenwood’s 31.85 acres, making it an impenetrable wilderness. Due to the many decades of neglect, the situation at Greenwood is grim. Much of the cemetery has been used as a dump site, the roads are impassable, stones have been toppled and buried, and shrubs and trees have now become impenetrable overgrowth. Despite current conditions, this site has potential as a cultural and historical resource. It has enormous potential for education, African-American genealogical research, and could be restored for hiking, biking and other activities.
The Book House – Rock Hill – St. Louis County
The “Book House,” as it is known by the business that has been located there for the past thirty years, is a center hall Gothic Revival Style house, and was likely constructed in the early 1860s. The property switched hands among early French St. Louis settlers and eventually ended up in the hands of noted Mississippi River Captain George C. Keith, who was most likely the owner at the time that this building was constructed. The style that Captain Keith chose for the home he built on Manchester Road became popular in the early 1800s beginning with the works of Maryland architect Alexander Jackson Davis, who published a design book in 1832 entitled Rural Residences. His guide book featured the romantic, picturesque Gothic Revival houses as the ideal style in which to construct a country house. American landscape designer, horticulturist and writer Andrew Jackson Downing promoted the Gothic styled house as perfect for the country, with its wide, often double-gabled front and expansive porch. It may be that, if Captain Keith were the house’s first owner, that the style might have also been derived of the “Steamboat Gothic,” which was used for many of the river boats he encountered, with their wrap-around galleries decorated with ornate wood “gingerbread” trim. Buildings in the Gothic Revival Style are quite rare in Missouri and especially in St. Louis County where this building is located, and this is possibly the oldest Gothic Revival style house in St. Louis County. The owner of the Book House building is entertaining a sale to a developer of the property on which the Book House stands. The developer reportedly wants to build a drive-in self-storage facility. Although neither application for a demolition permit nor plans for the new storage facility have yet been submitted to the City of Rock Hill, the owner has acknowledged that this is his intention and has served the Book House tenants with a notice that their lease will not be renewed and advised them to vacate within ninety days. It is hoped that by calling attention to the House through Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places Program, that the City of Rock Hill might be persuaded to reject the demolition permit and that the owners and developers would consider other real estate development that would preserve this rare and significant example of Gothic Revival architecture in St. Louis County.
The list of Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places is announced annually to call attention to threatened historic resources in Missouri. Nominations are solicited from citizens statewide and the properties chosen are considered endangered for a variety of reasons, including deterioration, neglect, encroachment, potential demolition or a combination of threats. Nominations for this year’s list came from all corners of the state. Counties with endangered historic places on this year’s list include Clay, Christian, Jackson, Shannon, Stoddard, St. Louis Counties, as well as the City of St. Louis.
Missouri Preservation is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to education, advocacy and recognition for historic resources throughout Missouri. Contact Missouri Preservation staff at (660)882.5946 or (314)-691-1941 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
MISSOURI PRESERVATION’S MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES PROGRAM
The first Most Endangered announcement was made in 2000 and was the program instituted as a media campaign aimed at calling attention to endangered historic resources statewide, serving as a call to action. In 2010 the program was expanded and staff support and a board liaison was assigned to each of the endangered places to assess the immediate needs of the endangered resource and assist the nominators to help ensure the preservation of each of the endangered resources. A public call for nominations is made each spring and nominations received from Missouri citizens. Nominations are assessed by a committee of Missouri Preservation’s governing board and the announcement of their selections is made at one of the sites chosen to be on the official list, usually during National Preservation Month.
CLICK ON THESE LINKS FOR PAST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES:
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
A Progress Report on the 2011 Most Endangered Historic Places
At some there hasn’t been a lot of movement, and at a couple the movement can probably be described as backwards, but here’s the lowdown on some of the 2011 Most Endangered:
The Williams Gierth House in Poplar Bluff: As a perk of Missouri Preservation membership, you can list your historic property for sale on our web site. Such was the case with the Williams-Gierth House, (a.k.a. The Castle House). The current owner saw the listing on our web site and purchased the house in late 2011 with the intention to restore this wonderful Victorian. In addition, Darren Bell, a graduate student in Historic Preservation at Southeast Missouri State University has nominated the building to the National Register of Historic Places, which will make it eligible for the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
The Jefferson School in Cape Girardeau: In late 2011, the City of Cape Girardeau issued an order to remediate structural deficiencies at this building or demolish. Missouri Preservation worked with local liaisons to urge owners of this building to gift the building to a non-profit that might be interested in renovation. The Prodigy School received the building as a gift and initially planned to renovate it for use as an educational facility again. The new owners may be thinking about building new, so we are hoping they will decide to sell the building to another party for rehabilitation before deciding to demolish.
Hodgen School in the City of Saint Louis: The Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis Special Administrative Board voted on February 16, 2012 to expend almost three quarters of a million dollars to demolish the Hodgen School for a playground and parking lot. This represents what we feel is a tremendous waste of a useful building in a (currently non-accredited) school district which is already financially strapped. The building is in an area of St. Louis which is known for its vast tracts of vacant land, so the district need not look very far for available playground or parking space.
William P. Thompson House in Grundy County: A local organization has acquired the Thompson House from the State Division of Parks and has already raised tens of thousands of dollars to restore the house for use by the community. The house is now ready to receive a replacement roof and windows as supporters have recently completed restoration of all the brickwork and foundation. They have also been milling and installing oak floor boards from locally raised timber. This is going to be an amazing transformation of an historic house that sat in ruin for many years!
The Route 66 Bridge in St. Louis County and the Riverside Bridge in Christian County: The Route 66 Bridge received a grant in 2011 from the National Trust to perform a feasibility study. Since then, the group has gotten another grant from the National Park Service to perform an historic structures report. The State Department of Transportation has been supportive of their efforts. In Christian County, Section 106 Review should begin soon as Christian County is discussing the construction of a new bridge at the current site and moving the historic bridge to dry land alongside the new bridge and roadway.
Fairfax House and the Rock Hill Church in St. Louis County: The Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery sold the property on which these two building sits in 2010. The City of Rock Hill granted permission to Fenton-based UGas to construct a gas station on the current site of these two landmarks soon after. UGas agreed to move the Fairfax house, but not the church, and gave locals one year in which to find a new owner. The group was unable to raise the funds necessary to move the church in the short time allowed. It looks now like Fairfax will be moved to city-owned property elsewhere, and that the church will probably be destroyed and its building stone reused for a chapel at a winery near Foristell, Missouri.
The Russell Hotel in Charleston: The Russell Hotel was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by Tiffany Patterson of the State’s Historic Preservation Office. It is hoped that this listing might attract a developer who might be interested in using the State Historic Preservation Tax Credits to renovate the building for future use, perhaps as housing.
The Lexington Municipal Auditorium in Lexington: The non-profit Lexington Auditorium Association was formed and the City of Lexington has recently agreed to grant them a 99-year lease. After it is passed into ordinance on April 10, 2012, a major donor campaign will be kicked off, utilizing the State’s Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) Credits. The building will be retrofitted to meet ADA requirements and the auditorium returned to its original purpose, hosting both private and civic functions.
Zion AME Church in Lexington: The Zion AME Church building has been vandalized a couple of times since its listing on our Most Endangered list, but the community has come forward to repair and stabilize until a suitable new owner can be found. Discussions are currently being had with the Wentworth Academy, a college-prep military school about acquiring the building for incorporation into their campus. The community is considering building a new hospital, and Wentworth is interested in acquiring the old hospital building. The church sits on land in the middle of the old hospital and the Academy, so the structure would be a natural addition for use as a chapel or repurposed for a new use.