Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places – 2010
Chariton County Jail and Sheriff’s Residence, Keytesville (Chariton County)
The Chariton County Jail and Sheriff’s Residence was constructed in 1906 and was in continuous use for over ninety years. Its original architect specified that all materials for its construction be obtained from local lumberyards and other sources. The Chariton County Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1973, leaving the jail and sheriff’s office the oldest governmental building in the county.
Engineers in January 2010 concluded the building is generally sound for its age, but the west and south walls which contain the old sheriff’s office and cells is in danger of collapse due to several factors, including water infiltration.
The Chariton County Jail and Sheriff’s Residence is a good remaining example of type of jail built in Missouri at the turn of the twentieth century. The complex is leased by the non-profit Chariton County Heritage Tours., Inc., and has been used for educational tours. It would also present a great heritage tourism opportunity as a museum.
This historic building was constructed about 1936 and was designed in stone to blend with the adjacent 1894 Cole County Courthouse, built in the Romanesque Revival style. The second floor originally served as the sheriff’s residence, but no longer used for this purpose. The complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
It is widely assumed the Cole County Commission will move to demolish the Jail and Sheriff’s residence. Plans for what would replace the old Jail have not been made public, but the Commission has indicated that a “sally port” or safe entrance for the transfer of prisoners to the courthouse will be needed. It is believed that an elevator can be constructed to the rear of the jail for this purpose, or that criminal cases might be heard in either of the two jail buildings, eliminating the need for the transfer of prisoners to another site for court trials.
Bridges of Missouri, Including the Riverside Bridge (Christian County) and the Route 66 Bridge (St. Louis County)
This combined listing has been formulated as many of our historic bridges are being lost to the rush to build new roads and infrastructure, to the idea that newer is better and old means obsolete, and to the fact that, due to age, the time has come for major restoration efforts at Missouri’s historic bridges.
The 1909 Riverside Bridge carries Riverside Drive over the Finley River outside the town of Ozark in Southwest Missouri. It is known as a pin-truss bridge, having removable pins holding the trusses together. It is known as a pin-truss bridge, having removable pins holding the trusses together. This made it possible for the component parts to be fabricated and shipped to the site, and also made it possible for this type of bridge to be easily disassembled and moved. Unique in that it is a two-span bridge, and given the fact that many bridges of this type have been lost at an astonishing rate makes this a bridge worth saving. The Riverside Bridge has recently been deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It is hoped that this bridge can be re-used in Christian County as a non-motorized trail system, perhaps as part of the Ozark Park Trail.
The Route 66 Bridge over the Meramec in Southwest St. Louis County was constructed in 1932 and is known as a Warren deck truss bridge, of which only three other examples remain in Missouri. Route 66’s passage across the Meramec River was heavily promoted as a tourist attraction due to the river itself, as well as the adjacent working class resort community known as Times Beach. Although major highway traffic is now carried over the Meramec by the Interstate 44 Bridge, the Route 66 Bridge was incorporated into the boundaries of Route 66 State Park, which opened in 1999. Being one of the most visited State Parks in Missouri at around 250,000 visitors per year, park attendance has dropped since the bridge’s closing to vehicular traffic in October 2009. There is strong support from a number of local and statewide groups to preserve this bridge. The preference of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) appears to be the removal of the bridge unless another party assumes ownership and rehabilitation responsibilities.
Fairfax House and the Rock Hill (United African) Presbyterian Church Rock Hill, (St. Louis County)
Fairfax House has been carried over on the list from previous lists; this year a situation has arisen that presents a new threat to this historic site, which is the reason why the nomination has been included with the Rock Hill Presbyterian Church.
Fairfax, also known as the James Collier Marshall House, is a center hall Greek Revival home, also known as an “I House.” Completed in 1841, the home was named for Mr. Marshall’s former home town, Fairfax Virginia. The 1845 church building was actually built by Mr. Marshall and was the first church in the region, serving several adjacent communities. Originally built in a vernacular Greek Revival style, the church is among the oldest in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Membership was seen to decline and the church finally closed its doors in 2005.
After being moved several times because of increasing commercial and residential development, the Fairfax House has ended up on another former Marshall property. In February 2010, it was discovered that the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery was seeking to sell the Rock Hill Presbyterian Church, presenting a threat to the historic church building and an additional threat to Fairfax House. This property is now situated at the intersection of two busy St. Louis county roads. It is a target for commercial development as the City of Rock Hill, which does its own zoning and has no current historic preservation ordinance, has zoned this property “commercial.”
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 had been in active use for its original purpose until this year when it was closed due to ADA accessibility issues. 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, so this historic place has been carried over from the 2009 Most Endangered List.
Former Missouri State Penitentiary, Jefferson City (Cole County)
This complex of buildings was constructed between the 1830s and the 1930s. Up until the time of its closing in 2004, it was the oldest prison west of the Mississippi River still in use, and was for many years the most densely populated prison complex in the nation.
The Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) was once a thriving industrial site, having been the largest supplier of saddle trees (the wooden support inside a horse saddle), a huge supplier of shoes, brooms, shirts and work clothes, license plates, furniture and metal products.
A master plan was carefully developed in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and the public for redevelopment and preservation of this historic site. Preliminary work to gather historical information and study environmental issues has begun. The former Women’s Prison has already been demolished, along with at least eight other buildings in the complex, including the administration building, hospital, dining hall and a housing unit. The remaining buildings suffer from lack of maintenance, and in March 2010 the City of Jefferson announced they had received a Community Development Block Grant to demolish eleven more buildings, including two factory buildings.
While “mothballing” of the complex has been undertaken, the former Missouri State Penitentiary is threatened by lack of state funding for ongoing maintenance as redevelopment has not proceeded at the rate that was expected.
Odessa Public School Building of 1912, Odessa (Lafayette County)
In 2008 the public school district sought to build a new upper elementary school, move the students from this building and sell it to the City of Odessa. In order to garner support for the construction of a new school building, a campaign was started to point out the “deplorable” conditions at the existing site. Although this building is in very good condition and has been maintained very well over the years, some citizens’ perception of the 1912 Odessa Public School Building is negative because of this campaign, and there are some who advocate for tearing down the former school building.
The City of Odessa took ownership of the property in November 2009. In February 2010 a citizen committee was appointed by the Board of Aldermen to research structural integrity, possible uses, renovation costs, and other issues. The Odessa Area Historical Society has spearheaded the campaign to save this building saying that most citizens would like to save the building if it is determined the building is structurally sound. Most would like to see it used as a community center that includes City Hall offices, conference rooms, the local museum and Chamber of Commerce offices.
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.
Rock Mechanics Laboratory/Former Missouri Trachoma Hospital, Rolla (Phelps County)
This former hospital building was constructed in 1939 with funds allocated to the United States Public Health Service to combat Trachoma. This disease which affects the eyes was the leading cause of blindness in the United States and was particularly prevalent in a belt running from Kentucky to eastern Oklahoma. After closing as a hospital, the building was acquired by the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T) and presently houses the University’s Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center (RMERC). The center is used for teaching and researching the basic problems in rock mechanics, explosives science, and engineering.
The 2009 Campus Master Plan for MS&T calls for the former hospital building to be razed and replaced by a parking lot for campus recreational facilities. It is thought the general public is unaware of the demolition plans and has therefore not been able to comment, although it is widely reported that demolition plans have been ramped up for 2011.
The Russell Hotel, Charleston (Mississippi County)
The red brick and terra cotta Russell Hotel was built in 1917 by Congressman Joseph J. Russell at a cost of $50,000.00. This three-story block on a raised basement was reportedly one of the finest hotels in Southeast Missouri, and unusually large for a town the size of Charleston. It was managed by John Marable who in 1921 purchased the hotel from Congressman Russell, paying for it in full. The basement level of the hotel was known as the “Cellar” and was a popular night club and dance hall, which over the years hosted some of the finest orchestras in the country.
The hotel itself closed several years ago, but a group of partners purchased the building with the intention of creating a bed and breakfast in the former hotel. An art gallery and the first floor restaurant remained open until 2008, when the partners abandoned the building as a result of discovering that their rehabilitation loan had not been guaranteed. A developer would be welcomed with open arms by this community, which cherishes this historic site, one of the single largest building in this charming Southeast Missouri town.
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.
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. The last remaining historic landmark building in an area that was largely destroyed by the urban renewal era. The Wheatley-Provident Hostpial building is threatened by neglect and is currently listed as a dangerous structure. spital 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 Wheatley-Provident Hospital building is threatened by neglect and is currently listed as a dangerous structure.
Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, Lexington (Lafayette County)
Constructed in 1870, this stately Romanesque style building was once home to the largest African-American religious congregation in Lafayette County. Through the years the enrollment declined, the church lost its pastor. Without a replacement pastor being available, the Central Council of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Kansas City ordered the doors closed in 2006. During this extended period of vacancy, the congregation has been scattered. Vandals have caused damage to the empty church, further demoralizing the few remaining members.
The building is now controlled by the absentee Fifth District Council of the AME in Kansas City, and there are no known plans for the edifice, or evidence of maintenance or upkeep. It is hoped that listing will help find a developer for this property.
2010 Watched Properties
African-American Schools across Missouri
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.
The Banneker School 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.
Lincoln School of 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.