Reynolds House's future may be decided today

Monday, April 14, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ The Reynolds House, 623 N. Main St., underwent stabilization work and a roof replacement recently. The fate of the 1857 structure may be decided today.

The fate of the historic Reynolds House may be decided today. Members of the Historical Association of Greater Cape Girardeau, which owns the property, will meet in closed session this afternoon to discuss how the building will be used in the future. Possibilities include making the space a coffee house, restaurant, office or antique store.

"We're trying to figure out a way to use it that will fit with our goals," said Bill Port, building and grounds chairman for the historical association. Port said the house could possibly be rented to a lawyer or accounting firm.

Once the home's use is determined, renovations to the building at 623 N. Main St. can continue, depending on funding. The society has faced considerable roadblocks in its efforts to preserve the 1857 building, but recently got a boost from an anonymous donor. The funding allowed stabilization work to be completed. The donor pledged up to $50,000 for the project.

Further construction is on hold depending on the acceptance of grants the society has applied for, the status of which will not be known for several months. "But that doesn't mean we're not wringing our hands about what we're going to do," Port said.

There is no electricity or running water in the building currently, one of the oldest houses in Cape Girardeau. The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Thanks to the stabilization work and a roof replacement, the house was not affected by last month's severe flooding, except for the dirt-floor cellar, where nothing was being stored.

The Glenn House, another property owned by the historical society, was not as lucky. About two feet of water seeped into its cellar, damaging the furnace and tools being stored there. The wooden cellar door was so swollen from rain it could not be opened for some time.

Donna Grantham, the association's president, said she is unsure how much it will cost to repair the furnace. The house also suffered from a small roof leak. Plaster damaged from the leak has already been repaired, and a volunteer is coming at the end of the month to fix damaged wall stenciling.

Overall, however, Grantham is pleased with the status of both homes, especially the Glenn House, which will expand its touring schedule to Tuesday to Sunday beginning May 1.

The home attracted 15 visitors during the storytelling festival held April 4 to 6.

"I'm feeling great. The house is really ready. It's just in really great shape. And the Reynolds House is stabilized," she said.

Last week, more than 80 Greek students from Southeast Missouri State University logged over 100 man hours completing work to both houses.

One representative from each fraternity and sorority came each hour as part of Greek Week, which encourages community service.

Students painted the carriage house, fertilized the grass, cleaned the front porch and worked on the flower beds at the Glenn House. At the Reynolds House, students primed and painted the porch, cleaned the brick sidewalk and completed yard work.

"It was a wonderful experience," Port said.

335-6611, extension 123

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