MISSOURI’S MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES – 2009
St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad Depot Fredericktown (Madison County)
The first railroad depot to be built in Fredericktown, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad Depot (1869) served as the town’s only freight and passenger depot for nearly sixty years. Fredericktown incorporated as a village in 1868 and served as the railroad’s “division point.” Numerous locomotives made their connections at Fredericktown, which supported a turntable and train repair shops. In addition to the production of iron ore, the community also shipped local agricultural products and livestock via rail. The railroad put Fredericktown on the main line of traffic and made this county seat town a place of considerable importance. The St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad Depot, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, is in a state of severe neglect. The roof is falling in, doors are missing, there is no plumbing, heating/cooling or electrical service to the building. Decay is visible in the supports and foundations as well. The exterior envelope of the building is board and batten, and curving arches support the wide roof overhang. Some of these arches are missing or broken. The current owners of the depot have used the building for farm supply storage for many years. Vandals have done extensive damage to the interior, including the setting of a fire. In addition, a May 2009 storm has caused considerable damage to the roof.
Lexington Municipal Auditorioum Lexington (Lafayette County)
Having lost the Grand Opera House to fire in the 1920s, the citizens of Lexington and Lafayette County were without a centerpiece for classical entertainment until the construction of their new facility in 1939. The Lexington Auditorium represents a rare WPA project in this area. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Auditorium sits on the southeast corner of Lafayette County’s historic Courthouse Square.
Constructed of buff-colored brick, the auditorium’s form is basic and geometric. Its design elements, including a curved entrance portico with illuminated glass block sidelights, entry stone with modernist relief lettering and geometric foliage, and its International style windows all add up to a simply beautiful and graceful Art Deco Streamline Modern exterior. The design of the interior is likewise geometric and utilitarian, with Art Deco details in its theater seats.
The overall condition of the Municipal Auditorium is quite good and the building is in active use for its original purpose. Its walls are solid and stable, the windows and doorways square and trimmed on the interior with birch and fir millwork in the original finish. Upgrading its facilities, including energy retrofit, addition of air conditioning and providing for handicap accessibility would ensure the building continues in its role as a central point and hub for community activities, entertainment and fellowship.
It is feared that the Auditorium building will be demolished for the construction of a parking lot for the adjacent Lafayette County Jail.
Grant’s Drug Store – Pilaster House Hannibal (Marion County)
The Grant’s Drug Store Building, also known as the The Pilaster House (1836) is one of the oldest buildings surviving in Hannibal and a fine example of Greek Revival Architecture. The interior timbers were cut and fitted together in Cincinnati, Ohio, then dissembled and shipped by steamboat to its present destination. The structure was originally headed to Marion City, North of Hannibal, but flood waters prevented delivery of the members, and the decision was made to use them at Hannibal. The building contractor who erected and finished the building was James Brady, who would later become the first Mayor of Hannibal.
Dr. Orville Grant, his wife and her mother lived in the upstairs rooms of the house in the 1940s. Dr. Grant had an office and drug store on the first floor. In late 1846 John Marshall Clemens, father of Samuel L. Clemens, the future Mark Twain, was bankrupt and had to move his family out of their home across the street. The Grants accepted the Clemens family into their second floor living quarters, where they shared the space. Jane Clemens, the widow of John Marshall Clemens was eventually able to raise funds to move her family back into their own home, now known as the Mark Twain Boyhood Home. Although their stay here was brief, both as a residence for the Clemens family in Hannibal, and as a source and setting for several Mark Twain stories, the Pilaster House has historical significance that is shared with a worldwide visiting audience.
The floors of the Pilaster Building have been sagging, and settling is acutely evident throughout the building, from roof ridge to foundations. Many cracks have appeared on the interior walls and one of the walls waves in and out. The settlement could be from settling soil around the foundations, but in addition, much of the wood framing in the crawl space beneath the building has rotted from repeated flooding and there is evidence of termite infestation that could be widespread and hidden beneath the interior walls.
Pierce City R-VI Middle School (Lawrence County)
In 1921 the newly formed Pierce City school district constructed its first high school building, which later became the Pierce City R-VI Middle School. Prior to this time, small one-room school buildings dotted the countryside and few students continued past the eighth grade. The conception and building of this facility was a giant leap for this small farming town. It afforded a more complete and higher education than most people of the time even dreamed of. The school construction was financed through private donations and citizens were encouraged each week through the local newspaper publishing the names of those who had made contributions to the $45,000.00 building campaign. This building is also significant in that, in 2003 a devastating tornado hit Pierce City, destroying most of its commercial and institutional buildings, but sparing this historic school building.
Constructed of brick, stone, tile and reinforced concrete, the Pierce City High School Building covered an area 65 X 75 feet. It consisted of two stores over a basement and was equipped with steam heat and modern plumbing. Basement space consisted of boiler room, boys’ and girls’ locker rooms and toilets, one large classroom, fuel room and unfinished 30 X 43 room beneath the first floor auditorium. The first floor consisted of two classrooms, a recitation room, superintendant’s office, a number of closets and the auditorium. Second floor spaces included two large classrooms, recitation room, large laboratory and a supply room. The classroom floors, boiler room and corridors are all reinforced concrete, with the classrooms receiving a wood floor overlay. The building in 2009 is essentially unchanged but for the later addition of a gymnasium, which has subsequently been partitioned and fitted with drop ceilings.
Although further study is warranted, a structural engineer’s report in June 2008 found the building to be structurally sound. The building has suffered from deferred maintenance, but its biggest threat is the proposed demolition endorsed by the school board, which fails to realize the historical importance of the building and the possibility of renovating the building for continued school use.
The James Collier Marshall Home (ca 1841) known as Fairfax sits at the main intersection in the town of Rock Hill at Manchester and McKnight Roads. As a structure, Fairfax is noteworthy, being among the oldest and most historically significant braced frame structures left standing in the County of Saint Louis. The house is virtually unchanged, most interior finishes and wood trim are original, with a hand turned rail and newel posts on the staircase. The home was moved twice to prevent demolition, approximately 400 feet from its original location. James Collier Marshall and brothers were responsible for the settlement of Rock Hill, operating a trading post, building log cabins and farming. Completed in 1841, Fairfax became a gathering place for settlers to congregate. James Marshall donated 15 acres of land in 1853 for the Webster College for Boys now known as Edgewood and in 1857 the first school in Rock Hill was established on the property. Fairfax is owned by the City of Rock Hill, is vacant and used for a few community meetings. It is exposed to the elements with no shutters or overhangs and some missing wood siding, with wood rot accelerating and rodents a problem. Plans for renovating Fairfax have fallen apart due to changes in leadership and turmoil in Rock Hill. Its historical significance is documented in a report, “Sentinel on Manchester Road,” and Fairfax was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. It is threatened by lack of maintenance, encroaching commercial development, and a local government and city with limited resources.
African-American Schools of Missouri – Including Lincoln (Vandalia) and Banneker (Parkville)
Missouri’s historic buildings tell the stories of the diverse spectrum of people who have lived in our state for hundreds of years. The variety of resources left by these groups enhances our understanding of Missouri’s history.
African-Americans have played a significant role in the development of Missouri, and they have left numerous resources to tell their part of the story. Many of these resources reflect the era of segregation, when African-Americans studied, shopped, and healed in buildings separate from the white community. Although segregation brought an end to discriminatory practices, the many buildings erected during this period remind us of a less than ideal time in our past. Often vacant or underutilized these buildings need to be preserved so that we can remember the complete story of Missouri’s history.
Schools built to educate Missouri’s African-American children are one particular type of historic building that is endangered across the state. Largely abandoned following the end of segregation, many have not found a new function and now face the threat of demolition due to years of neglect. It is important to save these buildings to remind us how through education we can teach current and future generations about the great cost of segregation, and the universal passion and desire for learning.
Lincoln School in Vandalia (Audrain County)
Lincoln School was built in 1928 to educate a growing population of African-American children and was one of the largest schools to be located in a small rural town. It served as an elementary and high school building with four classrooms. It also contains an auditorium with seating for 131 people with a raised stage and floor lights. Abandoned in the 1950’s when segregation ended, the building has been acquired by a group calling themselves “The Concerned Citizens to Save Lincoln School.” The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The building is in need of rehabilitation due to neglect and lack of funding to complete repairs. This is the only remaining historic school building in Vandalia, all other have been torn down.
The Banneker School in Parkville (Platte County)
This one room school house was built in 1885 to serve African-American students and was closed around 1905 when a two room school was built nearby. The school fell into private hands and was converted to a home. In the 1980’s Mrs. Lucille Douglass purchased the property to save it from demolition and deeded it to the Platte County Historical Society. Since then a new Banneker School Foundation was formed for the purpose of restoring the school building. The school is the first one room African-American school in Platte County and was originally built as an African-American extension of the college. It eventually became a primary school since the need was greater in this area, since the college found the African-American students were not prepared for college. Students attended from as far away as twenty miles. It is important to save this school to remind us of the importance of diversity and how through education we can teach current and future generations the great cost of the scope and depth of segregation as well as understand the passion and desire for learning. It is threatened by neglect, vandalism, a leaky roof and lack of maintenance.
Additional African American schools have been identified throughout Missouri, including the Lincoln School in Canton, the Howard School in Warrensburg, the Wheatley School in Poplar Bluff, and the George Washington Carver School in Fulton.
Wheatley-Provident Hospital Kansas City (Jackson County)
Wheatley Hospital has strong significance in terms of social history as the only remaining hospital building in Kansas City, Missouri that was established and run by and for the African-American community during the period of 1902 to 1972. Also significant is its association with the development of the medical profession within the African-American community in Kansas City. Run as a hospital and training school for nurses until 1972, the facility was founded by Dr. J. Edward Perry. As an example of local vernacular architecture, Jackson County limestone was used as a distinguishing design feature. The structure consists of two wings-the original structure built in 1902 as the St. Joseph’s Parochial School, and a second, north wing which was added in 1925 and was designed by the well-known architecture firm of Hoit, Price, and Barnes. The Wheatley-Provident Hospital is one of the last living reminders that this part of 18th Street was once the center of African-American life in Kansas City and a contributing resource to the story of Kansas City Jazz. It is also the last remaining historic landmark building in an area that was largely destroyed by the urban renewal era.
The MKT Railroad Bridge (1932) (Boonville, Cooper & Howard Counties) SAVED!
(Boonville, February 3, 2010) Governor Jay Nixon announced that Union Pacific had entered an agreement to donate the MKT Bridge to the City of Boonville. The bridge had been precariously close to demolition several times during the five years it was on Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places list. We are pleased to note this preservation victory and thank Governor Jay Nixon for his part in this effort.
Congratulations to the City of Boonville and Sarah Gallagher, Save The Bridge, Inc. and Paula Shannon, and to the thousands who supported this effort. This unique and historic bridge demonstrates the important link that history preservation holds for the future through economic development and cultural and heritage tourism.
This structure constitutes the only Missouri River crossing for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas or MKT railroad. It has a unique vertical lift span designed to allow easy passage of river traffic.
The lift span itself is 408 feet long, electrically operated, and weighs more than 1,200 tons. This bridge merged railroad and river commerce on the Missouri River. It is in excellent structural condition and the quality of its steel contributes to the threat to its existence. The direct threat to the bridge stems from interpretations of the 1987 Rails to Trails agreement that developed the 225-mile long KT State Park along the Missouri River. The bridge was included as part of the interim trail use agreement. Local business and civic leaders had hoped to renovate the MKT bridge and incorporate it into the Katy Trail. However, in October 2004, the Union Pacific Railroad, headquartered outside our state, initiated plans to demolish the bridge and to recycle its steel for new bridge downriver (Osage City, Missouri). Governor Blunt agreed with Union Pacific’s plans and notified the city of Boonville that he had given up our rights to the bridge for KT trail purposes. Under the guidance of its new director, Doyle Childers, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources reversed its position and agreed to let the Union Pacific cannibalize the bridge. Mr. Childers believed Missouri could not afford liability for our State’s heritage. Citizens in Boonville have given a strong and well-organized public outcry. Demolition was temporarily on hold while then State Attorney General Jay Nixon mounted a court challenge to prevent the removal of this unique property.
A court ruling in April 2006 found in favor of the Union Pacific and the State agreed to permit the destruction of this bridge. That elected and appointed government officials reject stewardship for Missouri’s rich historic resources constitutes not only an identifiable threat, but a regrettable one.
The bridge in now in imminent danger since it has exhausted all legal efforts through the court system. Union Pacific Railroad is seeking permits to remove the bridge. Bridge supporters are working to ensure the proper 106 review for historic significance and the environmental impact 404 process. The bridge has been on the National Register since 1982.
Courthouses Across Missouri – Specifically the Clark (ca. 1870) Kahoka (Clark County)
The Clark County Courthouse is carried over to Missouri Preservation’s 2009 Most Endangered List. It is threatened by the lack of funding and ongoing maintenance budget. The building, which was constructed in 1870, is exemplary of the courthouses built in this era, of which few survive statewide. The roof structure, its cupola, windows and soffits are severely damaged due to deferred maintenance. Two major events in the past year have complicated efforts to preserve this structure. The first was a structural problem which was probably due to the effects of a severe drought which caused the building to list. Emergency stabilization funds were acquired from the State’s Historic Preservation Office through their Heritage Properties grant program. The second threat is the recent decision of the Courthouse Committee of the County Commissioners to demolish the historic courthouse building and build a replacement. Missouri Preservation continues its outreach efforts to Clark County by advocating for retaining the historic and viable courthouse building in any building campaign. Years without budgeting for building maintenance in Clark County underscores the need for establishing budget line items in counties throughout Missouri for maintenance and emergency/contingency funds. This is especially relevant as recent storms (May 2009) have damaged courthouses in Madison and Ripley Counties.