Downtown visionary Hoener dies at age 80

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Wherever he went, Ted Hoener had a plan and he stuck to it. He was an architect.

When he and his wife, Shirley, came to Cape Girardeau in 1974, Ted applied his vision to a largely dilapidated downtown and riverfront, though he did not stay long enough to see it fully realized. In 1992, the Hoeners left the river city for Menomonie, Wis. It was there that an 80-year-old Ted succumbed to Parkinson's disease on Sunday.

Although he didn't move here until age 50, Hoener's family tie to Cape Girardeau reaches back to 1928, when his architect father, P.J. Hoener, designed the original Southeast Missouri Hospital. During his own career in architecture, Ted would take part in 10 years worth of renovation at Southeast, as well as help design the Cape Girardeau Public Library, the Jackson police and fire stations, and the Jackson post office. But once he became a resident of Cape Girardeau, his passion was reinvigorating the downtown area.

"He was a very proud person with standards he didn't deviate from," said friend Evelyn Boardman. "He had a keen sense of the aesthetic and he always looked ahead, but he also had a sense of history to balance that out."

Boardman's husband, John, was also an architect who shared Ted's love of Cape Girardeau's downtown.

"Ted had a lot of ideas for developing the riverfront," Evelyn said.

One of those ideas was turning the jumble of weeds and old cobblestone by the river into a riverside park, which he designed and helped bring to fruition. But there were many sketches of a renewed downtown in Ted's studio that didn't make it into concrete.

"He was ahead of the curve," said his widow, Shirley. "A lot of people just turned their backs on the riverfront. No one wanted to live downtown."

In addition to the riverside park, Ted designed a walkway along the river, which no one took him up on. The public also chose not to buy into his idea for riverfront condominiums north of the parking lots beside the Buckner and Ragsdale building.

"He was just too far ahead of them," Shirley said.

When he opened his first office in Cape Girardeau, he bought a parakeet-and-bird-lice-infested building at 112 Themis. The building filled with water each time it rained. Seeing potential beneath the feathers and puddles, he redesigned it into a prime office space. He later did the same by saving the Victorian home at 2 N. Lorimier, which was to be torn down until Ted bought it and restored it.

"He was part of the fabric of downtown Cape," said Evelyn. "He was always very involved."

335-6611, extension 137

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