2001

Marquette Hotel Cape Girardeau

Considered one of the finest hotels in Southeast Missouri when it was completed in 1928, the 121-room (after a 1936 addition of 40 rooms), 6 story Marquette Hotel is a fine example of Spanish Revival architecture that was favored by architects of the period. Closed as a hotel in 1971, the building has been condemned by the City of Cape Girardeau and is threatened with demolition by the City if a buyer cannot be found to rehabilitate the structure. Although structurally sound, the building bears the signs of deferred maintenance with broken windows, rusted ironwork, unstable marquees, interior water damage, peeling paint surfaces, and failed masonry in selective areas. While community support exists for saving the landmark property, the City remains committed to demolition -estimated to be nearly $1 million – if a developer cannot be located in the short term. The Marquette is Cape Girardeau’s last remaining historic downtown hotel.

St. Charles Hotel, 301-307 S. 5th Street St. Joseph

Completed in 1881 and expanded to its current configuration over the next two decades, the St. Charles Hotel with its leaded glass fanlight windows, coffered ceilings, columned lobby, varnished oak woodwork, steel cage elevator, and marble lobby counter, was a venerable address in Downtown St. Joseph during the City’s “Golden Age” of mercantile prosperity at the turn-of-the-20th century. Today, the St. Charles is the last of what was at one time more than a dozen downtown St Joseph hotels.

The St. Charles closed its doors for good in 1988, having served in its final days as a single room occupancy hotel for elderly and low-income residents. Deferred maintenance has taken its toll on the building. A leaking roof has resulted in considerable interior water damage. Roof rafters have rotted, portions of the first floor have collapsed into the basement, and sections of the building’s masonry walls have collapsed. This prompted the City to condemn the structure.

Local efforts by preservation groups to negotiate the purchase of the building have proven unsuccessful and recently an adjoining business, Sunshine Sign Company, has entered into a contract to purchase the building for expansion. Demolition of the hotel by the business is under consideration. Preservationists are attempting to convince the sign company to consider incorporating the hotel into its expansion plans.

UPDATE: Despite a successful effort by St. Joseph Preservation, Inc. to raise nearly $70,000 to purchase the Endangered St. Charles Hotel from the current owner, Sunshine Electronic Display Corporation, St. Joseph’s last remaining intact Downtown Hotel fell to the wrecking ball on Tuesday, May 19, 2001. Demolition began in earnest on Monday, May 18th after St. Joseph preservationists failed to convince the hotel’s owner to sell the hotel to the preservation group as originally promised through a verbal agreement. St. Joseph Preservation, Inc. had attempted to secure a written agreement from Sunshine, but was unable to execute the agreement due to the owner’s unwillingness to negotiate once it was learned that successful fundraising efforts had occurred. A candlelight vigil is planned for Wednesday, May 20, 2001, at 7:30 p.m. The purpose of the vigil is to promote awareness about St. Joseph’s endangered historic buildings and to kick off a drive to raise funds to establish a local revolving fund for endangered historic properties.

Grand Avenue Temple Kansas City

Designed by Kansas City architect John McKecknie utilizing the then modern building technique of reinforced concrete construction, Grand Avenue Temple has played a prominent role in the development of the Methodist Church in Kansas City. The “Mother Church of Methodism” in Kansas City has been responsible for the formation of many area churches, including Independence Avenue Methodist Church, Linwood Methodist, Country Club Christian, Oakley Methodist, Summit Street Methodist Episcopal, Roanoke Methodist Episcopal, and Northern Boulevard Methodist.

This stately Greek Revival house of worship was constructed between 1909 and 1911 and features a buff brick and limestone temple form exterior and a spacious amphitheater-like interior with elaborate plaster rosettes, Corinthian pilasters, egg-and-dart moldings, and stained glass windows and skylights. An extraordinary feature of the sanctuary is its 1912 E.M. Skinner Opus 190 Pipe Organ which was the first organ in the area to be named to the National Register of Historic Instruments by the Organ Historic Society of America. It is considered one of organist Ernest Skinner’s best-preserved works. The church and adjacent office building are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Despite such a glorious past, the church congregation has dwindled and is financially unable to maintain the aging 88-year old building. Signs of neglect are apparent. Peeling paint, antiquated systems, crumbling plaster, and failing stained glass windows reflect the struggle.

The Church made an offer to sell the property to the Federal Reserve Bank, subject to a vote by the congregation. The Federal Reserve Bank is interested in the property for use as a parking lot which would require demolition of the Temple. A vote of the congregation is scheduled for late April. The Historic Kansas City Foundation, Friends of Sacred Structures group, some congregation members, and many local preservationists are working to locate a preservation-sensitive buyer who would occupy the building and, if necessary, adaptively re-use the space. Time, however, is running out.

Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church Glasgow

Founded in 1860 by freed slaves Corbin and Ann Moore, Campbell Chapel is the oldest African-American congregation in the town of Glasgow, Missouri, and a notable and highly intact example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture in Missouri. Under the direction of carpenter Corbin Moore, a small group of freed slaves erected the brick church on Commerce Street in 1865, naming it in honor of the 8th consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Jabez. P. Campbell. 136 years later, Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Chapel still stands as one of the most intact mid-19th century African American churches in Missouri. The Church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The simple vernacular Greek Revival period building set into the side of the hill features a largely unaltered brick exterior and an interior that retains many of its early furnishings, including piano, pulpit stand, cabinet, and altar chairs.

Like Grand Avenue Temple, the threat to Campbell Chapel involves a dwindling, aging church congregation and the fact that funds are insufficient to maintain the historic structure. The building is in immediate need of masonry repointing – its soft brick and mortar having succumbed to 136 years of freeze and thaw. Poor repairs are evident along the base of the church. Deteriorated window frames and entrance doors have made it difficult to achieve energy efficiency in the building. A desire to improve the environment during worship services could result in the loss of important and rare historic building fabric. Deferred maintenance could lead to the eventual closure and demolition of the historic sanctuary.

Meramec Highlands “Frisco” Railroad Station Kirkwood

The Meramec Highlands “Frisco” station was constructed in 1891 by the Meramec Highlands Company, the developers of a summer getaway for wealthy Midwesterners on the bluffs overlooking the Meramac River two miles west of Kirkwood, Missouri. In its heyday, the resort featured a grand hotel, general store, and stone and frame guest cottages. The railroad station, a wonderful example of Romanesque Revival architecture adapted to a rural structure, was one of the earliest structures in the resort and was built by the resort owner, Marcus Bernheimer, to ensure access to the property. Once completed, it was deeded to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad for $1 in exchange for regularly scheduled service. By 1894 when the resort was in full operation, 12 trains a day stopped at the station.

The exclusivity of the Meramec Highlands resort, however, was short-lived. A worldwide Depression from 1893-97 adversely affected the resort. Streetcar lines from St. Louis arrived within reach of the resort and for the first time, inner-city residents of middle and working class populations were given inexpensive access. It was a particularly popular destination point during the 1904 World’s Fair. Though no longer exclusive, the resort did remain popular in the early years of the 20th century, but gradually fell out of disfavor as public tastes changed.

In 1913 the station achieved a unique place in history when Mrs. Della Snyder became one of a handful of women station agents in the country and the first and only one on the Frisco line. The station became both her home and her workplace and became the center of social life in the little hamlet. The station ceased operations in 1932 and was lived in by squatters who ultimately leased the property. By 1971, the station had deteriorated and was sold to the developer of a nearby apartment complex who has attempted on several occasions over the past thirty years to develop the property for commercial and residential purposes. During this time the station has suffered from repeated vandalism and deferred maintenance. Community opposition has pitted the owner against the City and local community groups and residents who desire to save the building and redevelop the site as a neighborhood park. The owner has threatened to demolish the building if he is unsuccessful in developing the property.

Louisiana Chicago & Alton Railroad Depot Louisiana

Constructed in 1907, Louisiana’s Chicago & Alton railroad Depot is representative of the hundreds of small scale railroad structures that served rural communities in Missouri in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Louisiana Depot is one of two survivors of its type in a tri-county region.

The early 20th century landmark exhibits modest detailing with its red brick veneer base and stucco paneled wall sections with wood battens. The central section of the building contains an office /ticket counter with segregated men’s and women’s waiting areas flanking it. The side pavilions contain freight or baggage areas. Much of the original interior woodwork, wainscoting, windows, and floor plan remain intact, although in a deteriorated state due to age and water damage.

The building ceased active passenger operations in 1960 and was allowed to sit vacant and deteriorate. The building closed in 1973 and was subsequently sold to a private individual who made some partial roof repairs and used the station as a temporary residence. The current owner has placed a new roof on the building to make it weather tight for the first time in decades. A plan for reuse and a full-fledged rehabilitation of the building are needed to secure its future, but efforts are hampered by the fact that the building sits in the Mississippi River floodplain. This has precluded the station from receiving Federal funds for rehabilitation. Moving the station from its original site may be necessary to save it, but the cost of moving it and finding an available parcel on which to relocate the station may make the project unfeasible. Moreover, the building sits along Highway 79, a designated Scenic Byway. Relocation of the building would diminish the historic nature of this designation.

Mid-town National Register Historic District Springfield

Springfield, Missouri’s largest concentration of late 19th and early 20th century residential structures lies within the boundaries of the Mid-town National Register Historic District which was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 13, 1989. Despite strong rehabilitation activity concentrated at the core of the neighborhood, the edges of the Historic District have seen a gradual erosion of historic fabric as a result of institutional expansions, demolition by neglect, zoning classifications that are contrary to the preservation of existing historic resources, and insensitive alterations. Since the Historic District’s National Register designation, 24 contributing historic properties have been lost to demolition. Further loss could result in a reduction of the Historic District’s boundaries and the diminishment of one of Springfield’s greatest assets.

Fine-Eiler Farm Oakville vicinity St. Louis County

Situated on a hill overlooking the Meramec River lowlands, the Fine-Eiler farmstead is a rare survivor in a rapidly suburbanizing St. Louis County landscape. The two story, vernacular, I-house plan, stone core of the house is believed to be the oldest extant house in what was originally the rural settlement of Oakville. The exact date of construction is unknown. St. Louis County lists the structure as having been built around 1857, but other local historians believe the house may have been erected as early as the 1820s by Benjamin Fine, the son of Philip Fine, who was an original settler of the area.

In the 1874 the property was sold to Philip Eiler who later enlarged the house with a log addition. His son , William Eiler, later acquired the farm and raised their family there. Remarkably, the house remains in the Eiler family today – the 4th generation of descendants. Poor health and a lack of direct heirs, however, have left the future of the Fine-Eiler homestead uncertain. Residential subdivisions and other signs of the rapid suburbanization of St. Louis County have encroached upon the once rural setting of the farm. An alarming number of historic properties in the area have been lost in the last decade due to this urban sprawl.

The loss or threat to historic properties in Oakville such as the Fine-Eiler Farm and other community’s in and around St. Louis County indicates a need for a stronger county historic preservation ordinance which would give the County’s preservation commission jurisdiction over demolitions and exterior alterations. Until this occurs, properties such as the Fine-Eiler home will continue to be under threat.

George Washington Carver School Fulton

Constructed in 1937 by the Kansas City architectural firm of Felt, Dunham, & Kreihn, the George Washington Carver School has been the center of Fulton’s African -American community. It is one of only a few architect-designed African-American schools in the State of Missouri was dedicated by Dr. George Washington Carver for whom the building was named.

The Carver School is a spacious, two story, T-shaped brick building that features an asymmetrical fa├žade with classical detailing. Many of the building’s original interior features remain intact. The school closed in 1982 and was used subsequently for storage. The building was purchased from the school district in 1989 by the George Washington Carver Memorial Corporation with the intent of restoring the building to its prominent place in the lives of Fulton’s African -American community. The first floor houses a black history museum and library with a special exhibit on Dr. Carver and his visit. In 1996 the second floor of the building was made available to Fulton Family Resource Center, a community service organization dedicated to children and families.

Despite its importance to the black community of Fulton and Callaway County, the school is currently threatened by the lack of funds and a need for broad-based community support necessary to complete the restoration. The non-profit board is struggling as further repairs and ongoing maintenance of the building are needed to ensure that this important piece of Fulton and Missouri’s black heritage is sustained in the new century.

Houses at 207, 211, 215, and 221 W. McCarty Street Jefferson City

Located within two blocks of the State Capitol, the four residential properties located at 207-221 W. McCarty Street were constructed between 1892 and 1920 and are deemed National Register-eligible as a small historic district. These buildings are some of the few remaining historic residential resources remaining in Downtown Jefferson City. Three of the buildings are owned by the City’s Housing Authority and the fourth by the City itself. Demolition permits have been applied for on all structures and local preservationists fear that the site will become a parking lot for nearby state government buildings. Rehabilitation of the buildings for housing or offices could add vitality to Downtown Jefferson City and avoid further erosion of the urban core. The City and Housing Authority have yet to decide the final fate of these four structures that comprise nearly the entire south side of a city block.

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