Latest mural depicts education

Friday, August 6, 2004

The latest mural to reach completion on the floodwall represents a theme instead of a historical event. In this case, the theme is education in Cape Girardeau.

For the main mural, artist Thomas Melvin chose to depict a scene from St. Vincent's Ladies Academy, founded in 1839 and located near where the St. Vincent church now stands.

"It was the first of its kind west of the Mississippi," Melvin said.

On either side of the mural are blue images framed by what is supposed to be the outline of a book.

On the left side is an image of St. Vincent's Seminary, which was located where Southeast Missouri State University's new River Campus will be built.

On the right side of the mural is Mark Twain and an image of the Normal School. Twain is featured in the mural because he mentioned passing by Cape Girardeau in his book "Life on the Mississippi." In the book, Twain wrote:

"Cape Girardeau is situated on a hillside, and makes a handsome appearance. There is a great Jesuit school for boys at the foot of the town by the river. Uncle Mumford said it had as high a reputation for thoroughness as any similar institution in Missouri. There was another college higher up on an airy summit -- a bright new edifice, picturesquely and peculiarly towered and pinnacled -- a sort of gigantic casters, with the cruets all complete."

The "Jesuit" school was St. Vincent's Seminary, but it was actually run by the Vincentians, not the Jesuits. The other college he refers to is the Normal School, which became Southeast Missouri State University.

-- Kathryn Alfisi

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