Old Town Cape presents awards at its annual dinner

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Old Town Cape held its annual award dinner celebrating revitalization of Cape Girardeau's historic district Friday night at the Show Me Center.

Awards were handed out to residents and projects embodying the spirit of preservation and urban renewal.

The winner of the Charles L. Hutson visionary award for exemplifying leadership that has bettered the downtown area was Kent Zickfield.

Owner and operator of Zickfield's Jewelry and Gifts, Kent took over the family business from his father William who died in 1980. Zickfield's has been a staple of downtown commerce since its opening in 1939 in its original location on the first floor of the St. Charles Hotel.

Zickfield said he was humbled by receiving an award named after Hutson. "One thing Charlie and I had in common was our genuine love of downtown Cape Girardeau," he said.

In 2003, Zickfield's renovated their location and combined the family's other store "The Gift Box" into one larger space selling both jewelry and gifts. This move paid instant dividends and in that year Zickfield's posted a sales growth of 25 percent.

It has always been a family business, and Kent's mother, Maxine, 91, still keeps its records.

The recipient of the John Boardman excellence in historic rehabilitation award was the Rose Bed Inn at 611 S. Sprigg St.

The building dates to the early part of last century and was on Cape Girardeau's condemnation list until it was rescued in 1999 by James Coley and Eldon Nattier and reopened in 2005 as a bed and breakfast that has attracted tourists from all over the world.

Coley hopes the award will inspire others to think about reusability.

"Americans say turn lemons into lemonade; we country boys just say 'one man's trash is another man's treasure,'" he said.

When confronted with trash, said Coley, "don't put it in the landfill. Gift it to someone who will reuse it." The men bought the property for $15,000.

Also of note, after one year as president, Tom Higgins passed the presidency of the board of Old Town Cape to Steve Hoffman.

Old Town Cape has large ambitions for this year.

After years of success bringing commerce back to Main Street, in 2006, Old Town Cape plans to focus energy on gentrifying the Haarig/Good Hope area. To kick off this effort, Dr. Frank Nickell of Southeast Missouri State University gave a speech recounting the history of the area.

Nickell said the area was home to Cape Girardeau's German immigrant population after the turn of the century. It was a neighborhood, he said, that bustled with heavy concentrations of family-owned businesses like tanneries, saloons and barbershops. After World War II, he said, the prevalence of the automobile and a trend towards modernized shopping marked the end of much of Haarig's commerce. It has since seen a decline.

But Nickell said its renewal is important. "Haarig is important because it tells us who we are, where we've been, and how we have acted," he said.

Jarrett Cooper of the city planning firm Roseman and Associates was also there to encourage Cape Girardeau residents to look back toward an area many have forgotten. "The thing about what a lot of people are calling 'new urbanism,' is it's what you in Cape Girardeau already have," he said. "We want to let the town grow organically, but with direction."


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