Missouri’s 2017 Historic Places in Peril

Click here to download Press Release.

The Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation (Missouri Preservation) announced its 2017 list of historic Places in Peril on Friday evening, August 25, 2017 at a special “Unhappy Hour” event at the National Building Arts Center, which is located in Sauget Illinois just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. Seven new endangered historic places were named to the list for 2017 and six were carried over from the previous year. Missouri Preservation is a statewide non-profit organization that has at its core a mission to advocate for, educate about and assist in the preservation of architectural and historic landmarks that embody Missouri’s unique heritage and sense of place. Its chief advocacy program is its “Places in Peril.” Begun as a media campaign in 2000 as “Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places,” the program calls attention to endangered historic resources statewide that are threatened by deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, imminent demolition and/or inappropriate development. The program was renamed “Places in Peril” in 2015. Once a historic resource is gone, it’s gone forever. By publicizing these places the organization hopes to build support toward the eventual preservation of each property named.
While it is acknowledged that not every historic resource named here can be rescued, the efficacy of the Places in Peril Program will be proven in the many instances where by advocating publicly for its preservation, and planning for its continued contribution to Missouri’s built environment, many an imperiled property will indeed find rehabilitation and ongoing preservation, contributing to the education and enjoyment of future generations of Missourians.

 

A big thank you to all of those who attended our Unhappy Hour and helped us bring awareness to these endangered resources. We hope you enjoyed seeing all the wonderful pieces that have been saved at the National Building Arts Center!


Missouri’s 2017 Places in Peril

  1. Emmaus Home– Marthasville, Warren County*

  2. 526 Rue St. Jean– Florissant, St. Louis County

  3. Demarree House– House Springs, Jefferson County*

  4. The Lincoln School– Jackson, Cape Girardeau County

  5. Kirksville High School Building– Kirksville, Adair County*

  6. The Miller Mausoleum– Holden, Johnson County

  7. Westland Acres– Chesterfield, St. Louis County*

  8. The Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District– Independance, Jackson County

  9. Old Phillipsburg General Store– Phillipsburg, Laclede County*

  10. The Jefferson Avenue Foot Bridge– Springfield, Greene County

  11. The Phillip Kaes House & Other State Historic Sites– Sherman, Castlewood State Park, St. Louis County*

  12. The Old Post Office Building– Nevada, Vernon County

  13. 4200 Cook Avenue– The City of Saint Louis

    (* Re-listed properties)

 

2017 Watched Properties List

  1. 222 S. 4th Street– St. Joseph, Buchanan County

  2. St. Joseph Livestock Exchange– St. Joseph, Buchanan County

  3. 8th and Center Streets Baptist Church– Hannibal, Marion County

  4. The Old Calaboose/Jail– Elsberry, Lincoln County

  5. Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge– Hazelgreen, Laclede County

  6. The Parsons House and Others– Jefferson City, Cole County

  7. The Henry Miller House– Bloomfield, Stoddard County

  8. The Frank L. Sommer “Cracker” House– St. Joseph, Buchanan County

  9. The Diamonds Cafe– Villa Ridge, Franklin  County

  10. Wheatley-Provident Hospital– Kansas City, Jackson County

  11. The Russell Hotel– Charleston, Mississippi County

  12. Houston House– Newburg, Phelps County


The Emmaus Home Complex– Marthasville, Warren County

The Emmaus Home Complex in Marthasville began as a seminary for the German Evangelical Church in Missouri. A campus of five buildings was completed here by 1859. Four of these remain in various states of repair, those being the Farm House, Bake Oven, Friedensbote (Messenger of Peace) Publishing House, and the Dormitory. The College Building itself was lost to a fire in 1930. The seminary was in operation at this site until 1883, when it moved to St. Louis and eventually became Eden Seminary. In 1893 the campus in Marthasville became known the Emmaus Asylum for Epileptics and Feeble Minded. The campus grew to a total of eight substantial buildings including a chapel, by 1928. In more recent years the religious denomination became the United Church of Christ and the two campuses the church body owned – this one in Warren County for men, and the other in St. Charles County for women – became known simply as the Emmaus Homes. This is an important historic site, having been constructed by some of the tens of thousands of Germans who emigrated here beginning in the 1830s. In the area the first Evangelical church west of the Mississippi was constructed, and this marked the beginning of the Synod of the west, known as Der Deutsche Evangelisch Kirchenverein des Westens. The buildings in the complex are unique in that they are of sturdy limestone construction in varying German styles by German immigrants. They are representative of the tenacity of some of Missouri’s earliest Germans, and are unique in that most are original with very few modifications over the years. Through the years the approach toward caring for the handicapped and developmentally disabled has also changed, and care for the residents at Emmaus has shifted from large institutional settings to smaller group homes. Emmaus has indicated that they wish to transition all clients away from Marthasville by 2020. It is hoped that by listing this campus on the list of Missouri’s Places in Peril that when it comes time to dispose of the campus, that Emmaus Homes will seek to find a reuse for this campus that will preserve the historic buildings located here.

 

526 Rue St. Jean– Florissant, St. Louis County

The Bellissime-Ouvre House at 359 Rue St. Jean in Florissant, Missouri is believed to have been constructed 1810-1830 and is listed both individually and as part of the Old Town Florissant Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is believed to be the oldest Missouri French house of masonry construction in the area. The building is a painted one story brick residence and maintains the important features and configuration of its style. The plan is a simple rectangle with traditional galleries extending the full elevation on both principal facades. It has original six over six windows and four-panel rear door, as well as all original interior millwork including elegant Greek Revival fireplace mantel and other details. Currently in foreclosure, we are hopeful that a preservation-minded party might come forward to purchase and restore the Bellissime-Ouvre House in Florissant. This building is currently owned by Citimortgage Company, which is being represented by South Law. To find out about when this property will be sold at public auction go to their website, http://www.southlaw.com and click on “Foreclosure Sales.” Then search by County to find the auction place, date and time.

 

The Demaree House– House Springs, Jefferson County

The Cornelius Demaree house today is located near the corner of Main Street and Gravois Road (State Route MM) in House Springs. The building was originally a log structure completed ca. 1837. Mr. Demaree lived on the several acre plot with his family until his death in 1857. By 1860 the property was auctioned off in parcels by Dr. George Smith, who marketed these plots as “The Town of Demaree,” claiming that there were already fifteen buildings in the town. According to probate records at the time, these buildings included the dwelling, a stable, a blacksmith shop, and even several well houses. Eventually the Demaree family disappeared from the area and the town re-named for the local House family, which had reportedly been massacred by Osage Indians, The town then gained its present moniker of House Springs. Over the years the Demaree house it has been expanded from pioneer cabin to a two story center hall “I-House” with a columned two-story gallery extending the entire length of the house’s principal façade. This house is important in the history and settlement of this area in Jefferson County. It has been empty and neglected for many years. The current owner is amenable to selling the property to a preservation-friendly buyer who would be interested in moving the house to another location. Contact the owner at brucefamilybiz@gmail.com.

 

The Lincoln School– Jackson, Cape Girardeau County

Though certainly earlier buildings existed prior, the earliest evidence found of a school building in Jackson for the African American community comes from 1892, when it was noted that the Knights of Tabor Hall at 107 Cherry Street was being used as the black school. Then in 1894 the first Lincoln School on Union Street was constructed for the instruction of Jackson’s African American students, and was the center of the black community until a flood destroyed the building in 1946. The second Lincoln School (pictured here), situated on a lot at the intersection of Oklahoma and West Jefferson avenues was constructed in 1947 and was used for educating black children until 1953, when they were integrated into the white schools. For two years the school was used for kindergarten and first grade, then was remodeled and used as administrative offices in the late 1950s. District administration remained here until 1988 when the building was again remodeled for use as a support services building for Jackson Public Schools. The Lincoln School building is significant as the largest, newest and only African American school building in Jackson and one of only two remaining in the County. In June of 2017 the Jackson R-2 School District demolished the historic former Jackson High School built in 1920, and the School Superintendant has been quoted as saying this would be “the next to go.” By listing here, the citizens of Jackson hope that awareness of this proposed demolition will serve as a call to action to implore the School District to halt demolition and find an alternative use for this historic building.

 

The Kirksville High School Building– Kirksville, Adair  County

The former Kirksville High School Building at 411 East McPherson Street in Kirksville is an Elizabethan/Collegiate Gothic style facility erected in 1914. It is the only remaining example of the style known in this northeast Missouri town, and represents the first citywide commitment to public education through the establishment of the first bond issue passed for its construction. The building served as Kirksville’s main high school until 1960, and was the meeting place for the Kirksville Board of Education until 1978. It is of brick and stone construction with reinforced concrete floors. Since being vacated by the School Board in 1978, the building has had several owners, but has not been well maintained. It is currently on the City of Kirksville’s condemnation list. The former Kirksville High School building has been deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2014 the City received a Community Development Block grant for demolition of the building. The grant was not used due to higher than anticipated demolition costs and the owner’s inability to fund the difference. It is hoped that by this listing on Missouri’s Places in Peril, a suitable buyer and developer can be found to repurpose and renovate this building which has architectural merit, possible eligibility for historic tax credits, and a nostalgic place in the hearts of many Kirksville residents. Interested buyers should contact J.D. Smiser at: 660.665.9873

 

The Miller Mausoleum– Holden, Johnson County

If you have ever traveled Missouri Highway 131 through Johnson County or been to the Warrensburg, Missouri area, chances are you have encountered the interesting anomaly at the roadside just north of Holden known as the Miller Mausoleum. Sitting just off the state highway, this roadside curiosity has attracted the attention of many a passer-by for years. Interesting in that it is not surrounded by a cemetery or other funerary structures, it sits alone adjacent to the roadway – generally isolated and shut off from the everyday world, though very apparent at the side of the road. Constructed between 1915 and 1918, this steel reinforced concrete structure was conceived by Joseph M. Miller, who moved to Holden from the Macon, Missouri area in 1915. He was a biblical scholar who took inspiration from tombs described in the bible for his whimsically-designed roadside mausoleum. There have been a total of eighteen entombments of Miller family members and descendants at the mausoleum, the last being in 1931. After Miller’s death the mausoleum passed on to the various descendants, all of whom had moved outside the Missouri area. The mausoleum suffered from deferred maintenance and communication between the descendants who had dispersed to various other parts of the country, was difficult. Then about five years ago, one of the descendants, Carl Cranfill of South Dakota started a road trip campaign to gain control of the mausoleum so that he could plan for its long term care and maintenance. Finally gaining full control of the Mausoleum, he began the process of interring the bodies of those entombed at the Mausoleum in the local cemetery in Holden. After securing and stabilizing the Mausoleum, Mr. Cranfill would like to eventually transfer ownership to a local non-profit entity so that it can interpret the structure and the history of the Holden Community. By listing here on Missouri’s Places in Peril, we hope to call greater local attention to this very unique and rare historic site, and help with fundraising for the GoFundMe campaign entitled “Friends of the Miller Mausoleum.”

 

Westland Acres– Chesterfield, St. Louis County

Westland Acres is a residential subdivision of approximately 130 acres on the border of the villages of Chesterfield and Wildwood in suburban west St. Louis County. It contains a handful of two and three bedroom wood frame homes tucked into the woods along Church Road, and is anchored on the western edge of the subdivision by the Union Baptist Church, which was constructed in 1984 after the old church building burned. In the church yard is the John W. West Cemetery, formerly known as the West-Gumbo Cemetery. The cemetery contains about 30 graves dating from as early as the 1870s. Westland was established in 1881 when William West and his wife Pollie, who were recently freed slaves were able to purchase 150 acres from Norris Long on what was then a remote area of St. Louis County. There the West family built a log cabin and established what would become the community of Westland. The property was eventually divided among descendants of this original family, and by 1950 there were 45 families living in the neighborhood along what was still a dirt road. Many of the families still farmed and lived off the land. The community has now dwindled to under 10 families, though Westland retains its historic ties with descendants of William West. Decades ago there existed many African American enclaves throughout St. Louis County. But these have become rarities as their communities, often marginalized, were frequently the first to face the wrecking ball. Westland Acres is today threatened by encroachment of high priced development. The surrounding area has been transformed from rural backwater to one of St. Louis’s wealthiest areas. This development has caused property values to skyrocket, and along with it, the property taxes. These burgeoning tax bills are driving residents out of their homes and to more affordable areas of the region. It is hoped that by listing here perhaps the residents of Westland Acres might get tax relief from St. Louis County so they might be able to afford to stay in the historic community which has been their ancestral home for nearly 150 years.

 

The Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District– Independence, Jackson County

The Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District was established in 1972 and contains 567 structures. It was listed the personal endorsement of the former US President shortly before his death. Biographers and historians have consistently highlighted the First Family’s relationship with their neighborhood, and this is key to the identity of the District, with the Truman Home placed within its setting. This concept of setting is especially critical when it comes to the Truman National Historic Site (the house itself). Most presidential homes sit on estates surrounded by landscaped grounds. The Truman home sits on a narrow street surrounded by Victorian as well as newer homes both modest and substantial. This presentation of Midwestern middle class neighborhood life is what visitors see from the sidewalks and porches of the Truman Home. This setting adds value to the National Historic Site and helps tell the story of a man who took his sense of community and neighborhood to the Jackson County Courthouse, the US Senate, the White House, and to international peace summits. Since the establishment of the District in 1972, eleven significant homes have been lost. Three were lost due to neglect and fire, and eight were sacrificed for the construction of parking lots. The Truman NHL District was enlarged in 2011 by the US Department of the Interior, but before being finalized, the addition was downsized and gerrymandered because of buildings lost during the process. Three properties became isolated and two of Truman’s three boyhood homes were also left out. A glaring example of loss of integrity to this district came when two homes in the expanded district were demolished when a proposed developer said his project wouldn’t work without the demolitions, and the City Council voted unanimously to override the Heritage Commissions denial of demolition permits. In the end, the developer failed to complete the project, selling one of the empty lots from the demolitions to an adjacent homeowner for a larger yard. Several institutional buildings within the district are vacant and in need of maintenance. A new development within the district has been constructed without design review and remains mostly vacant. Another development has been inappropriately planned on formerly owned public property marked with national historic trail signage and one that connects the NHL district to to these national historic trails. Efforts to begin updating the Independence Comprehensive City Plan have begun. By listing here, we strongly encourage the City to adhere more closely to existing development guidelines, to provide leadership in soliciting proper and qualified input into the City Plan, and that the Plan make historic preservation a key part of planning activities both now and in the future, with increased participation by stakeholders, the City’s Preservation Planner and its Heritage Commission.

 

The Old Phillipsburg General Store– Phillipsburg, Laclede County

Few small town buildings are as iconic as the old general store. The Phillipsburg General Store was constructed in the last years of the 1800s. It survived for many years as one of Phillipsburg’s largest buildings and now has the distinction of being the only historic building remaining in the village. The building also sat next to the railroad tracks, and trains supplied the store with the many provisions needed for the villagers and local farmers. Sugar and flour, crackers and other needed items were bought in bulk and put in sacks to take come. Dolls and garden supplies, tools, as well as rabbits and chickens were purchased in the store and taken home in wagons pulled by horses. In later years the adjacent Route 66 brought many tourists to this tiny town. The upstairs served a variety of the community’s social needs, containing a small theater, an office where a lodge was located and where the Woodsmen of America met, as well as other groups like the American Legion. After the lodges were gone, ladies set up quilt blocks where they constructed quilts for many families in the community. During the 1990s some rehabilitation work was completed on the old store and part of the building was used again for quilting and antique sales. But in the meantime, a building that has been cut off from the railroad and its iconic roadway is in danger. A roof leak in the rear of the building has caused extensive damage to the rear masonry wall, which is in danger of collapsing. By listing here, the nominator hopes to rally local support for the old store building or to attract a buyer that is interested in renovation of this small town icon. Contact the owner: bcbender3@yahoo.com or 417.664.6520

 

The Jefferson Avenue Foot Bridge– Springfield, Greene County

The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge in Springfield was constructed in 1902 by the American Bridge Company. It spans thirteen tracks of the Burlington Northern North Yard, connecting historic Commercial Street to the south at Jefferson Avenue and the Moon City Creative District to the north at Chase Street. The three-span cantilevered through truss footbridge rises twenty five feet above grade with the assistance of north and south approach stairs, and extends 562 feet in length. The deck is six feet wide and is comprised of horizontal wood planks fastened to a warren webbed truss of c-channels and railroad track sections extending the length of the bridge. The bridge’s most distinctive feature are the two support towers that rise 50 feet above grade and are capped with four decorative metal orbs. Its profile highly resembles a suspension bridge. Aside from removal of original bicycle ramps in 1954 the bridge’s overall appearance, integrity and function have remained intact. A renovation that took place 1998-2002 restored the bridge for its centennial and included the construction of a new events plaza and exterior lighting. The bridge was closed in March of 216 by the City of Springfield due to reported corrosion and steel loss in the north support tower. It was decided to close the bridge indefinitely and a more thorough inspection was conducted, producing five options for the bridge. Though the City Council seemed to favor the most expensive option of complete rehabilitation, no formal vote was taken. The closed bridge has caused pedestrians to use alternate routes to their neighborhoods, and thwarted tourism in the burgeoning development of the Commercial Street District. Initial fundraising being slow, a subcommittee of the Commercial Club of Springfield, the “Save Our Footbridge Committee” funded a second opinion study in order to reassure potential donors about cost and scope of renovation, and the anticipated report is expected to recommend cost savings for the project. Though the project has seen widespread support, even from second grade students who have started a “Penny A Day Helps the Footbridge Stay” campaign, major fundraising efforts have been sluggish. By listing here it is hoped that additional attention is brought to the campaign to save the bridge and that fundraising for the renovation will be stepped up.

 

The Old Post Office Building– Nevada, Vernon County

The last couple of decades of the 19th century brought phenomenal growth to the town of Nevada, Missouri. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad came in the 1870s. The W.F. Norman Company, known for its manufacture of pressed metal products, including tin ceilings (still in business here and using the same wooden molds), was established in the 1880s, as well as Cottey College. In 1887 the State of Missouri constructed State Mental Hospital Number 3 here, which eventually employed over 1,100 employees. Then in 1897 came the Weltmer Institute. Its founder, Sidney Weltmer believed that healing could be a successful business. He authored the book, “How to make Magnetic Healing Pay,” and practitioners performed mental healing through telepathy and mental suggestion. The institute treated hundreds of people a day, and employed 17 healers and over 100 stenographers and typists just to process the daily mail. The need for a large local post office was evident, and the US Postal Service upgraded the Nevada post office to Class A and constructed a beautiful and commodious building in 1910. The 6,000 square foot building was designed by James Knox Taylor (1857-1929) who was the Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1897 to 1912. Mr. Taylor studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and for a time was partners in an architectural firm with Cass Gilbert. Taylor designed many notable buildings in his time, including the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, Denver and Philadelphia Mint buildings, as well as US Post Offices from New York to San Francisco. Plans to build a new Nevada post office were announced in 1961, and when completed the old building was taken over by the county Sheriff’s Department and the county jail. Eventually a new facility was constructed for the office and jail, and the former post office building was auctioned off in May of 2012 as surplus property. The building has been empty and improperly maintained since then. With the guidance of Missouri Preservation, local museum director Will Tollerton recently completed an eligibility request for the National Register of Historic Places for the post office building and the State Historic Preservation Office found the building eligible for listing, making it likewise eligible for the state and federal historic tax credit. The current owner is interested in selling and any interested buyer should contact the property manager, Mr. Karl Householder at 515.402.7564.

 

4200 Cook Avenue– The City of Saint Louis

Decorated Civil War veteran Frederick W. Fout (1840-1905), after a successful career in glass manufacture both in Indiana and Missouri, turned to pensions and claims as well as real estate development in his later years. In the 1890s he was known to have owned several large parcels of land in the City, including one in City Block 3746 at the corner of Whittier and Cook in what were then St. Louis’s western suburbs. From what it appears, Fout was interested in building a cohesive group of substantial buildings to be held as rental property. A group of St. Louis’s most talented architects at the time became occupied with plans for Fout’s proposed developments. Drawings from the June 1892 Northwestern Architect by Harvey Ellis show a large corner building with what appears to be a double row house to its right, entitled, “Premises of Frederick W. Fout, St. Louis, Mo.” Drawings by the firm, Barnett and Haynes from the same publication in September of that year, show the same sort of building campaign, with a large “anchor” building on the corner and a smaller building to its right and titled, “F.W. Fout’s Terrace, St. Louis, Mo.” Likewise in 1893, a drawing by Oscar Enders, then with William Ittner Architects, appeared in the American Architect showing a development more compact and restrained in style and proportion, with the caption, “A Block of Houses for Captain F.W. Fout, St. Louis, 1892.” Building permits for the buildings that would occupy Fout’s development at Whittier and Cook were dated December 2, 1891 and consisted of a 2 story brick dwelling to cost $5,000.00 and a second adjacent 2 story brick dwelling at a cost of $3,500.00. The building permit lists the architect as “Barnett and Hagan,” which surely represents a typographical error. Census records from 1900 show that the residents of both buildings were renters. The westward companions to the anchor building on the corner of Whittier and Cook have been lost After an unsuccessful restoration effort, owners abandoned the remaining building at 4200 and it was acquired by the City’s Land Reutilization Authority. The remaining building in Fout’s development at Whittier and Cook is classically Richardsonian Romanesque, with its red brick construction, rough faced squared stonework, arched window openings and tower with conical roof. This seems to be a very last call for a would-be developer to acquire and renovate this gem designed by the best of St. Louis’s architects at the turn of the 20th century. This property was listed for sale as of 08/01/2017 on the St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority’s website. Interested buyers should call the LRA at 314.657.3721


A very big thank you to our generous sponsors:

Debbie Sheals, Preservation Consultant

Robert & Judith Little

St. Louis Design Alliance

Mackey Mitchell Architects

National Building Arts Center