Jackson group ready for Homecomers

Monday, July 7, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com The 99th annual Jackson Homecomers opened in 2007 with the Jackson Municipal Band directed by Nick Leist.

With the Homecomers Centennial celebration approaching, the Jackson Heritage Association is preparing to be highly visible throughout uptown Jackson with a number of exhibits and attractions planned.

Tourists visiting the Oliver House Museum will see a special debut of the latest exhibit — a turn-of-the-century bridal trousseau donated by a family with Jackson roots — from 3 to 6 p.m. July 22 to 26 at 224 E. Adams St.

Homecomers visitors will find refreshment stands, carnival rides, music and talent shows along the streets of Jackson. South High Street, will feature carnival rides and the Heritage Association's presence in storefront windows. Heritage Association DVDs will show slide shows of historic Jackson, with more than 300 images on TVs set up in stores.

Attendees also have the opportunity to visit the historic Willer Building. The association will have a number of souvenirs for sale, ranging from 4-by-6-inch historic photos to history books to poster-sized photos. The photos show early Jackson businesses, big snowfalls and ice on overhead lines, football stadiums and players, and previous Homecomers celebrations.

Tom Strickland, committee chairman of the Uptown Jackson Historic District, will also display a poster-sized layout of the placement of new 12-foot lamp posts and concrete pavers that will be used in an upcoming project in the historic district made possible through a MoDOT enhancement grant of about $275,000. There will also be another poster of the buildings that make up the historic district.

"People will enjoy spending leisure time and shopping in uptown Jackson with the enhancements in place," Strickland said. "We're hoping to attract more specialty shops."

Strickland Engineering is currently designing the project, with plans to receive bids early fall and for contractors to start next year.

Submitted photo Erinne Haff's entry in the senior high category of Jackson Heritage Association art contest.

Jackson High School memorabilia enthusiasts will be able to see a Military Academy uniform with saber and hat on display, courtesy of Pat Fosse, the association's president. The early Jackson High School was in the Military Academy building.

Oliver House work

The association hopes to raise a minimum of $11,000 for new furnaces at the Oliver House. Heating and cooling are important issues at the museum, especially with the collections there on loan.

When the air conditioning failed in 2002, repairs to the water-damaged kitchen ceiling were covered through donated labor. "It buckled and bowed," Association board member Cathi Stoverink said. "The items under the wet were in jeopardy. Wood slats had to be repainted and we were lucky the items under it were not paper but dinnerware that could be washed and was not damaged."

Submitted photo Emily Thompson's entry in the senior high category of Jackson Heritage Association art contest.

Protecting the history that's housed in the Oliver House Museum is one part of the association's mission. The not-for-profit, started in 1977, accepted responsibility for completing the restoration of the Oliver House Museum when the deed was transferred from the Jackson Industrial Development Corporation in 1976.

Future plans include replacing the furnace and pillars on the front porch, featuring specific collections at open house tours, creating a drive by or walking tour of historic Jackson homes.

An expanding mission

But its expanded mission includes promoting respect and appreciation for historical buildings, landmarks, places and things. For example, the association promotes its mission through art contests open to student artists. Three art contests encourage students to explore and study the architecture of the Oliver House, the Willer Building and the 100-year-old courthouse.

Submitted photo An historic, panoramic view of the 1908 Homecomer's celebration. Note the old and new courthouses in the background.

Submitting original renderings for a chance at recognition is just one reward for the students. Notecards of the students' work were reproduced and will be available for sale at the Willer Building and at Jackson High School All-Alumni night July 26 at the multipurpose area.

The 100-year-old courthouse, to which the 1908 Homecomers was dedicated, was chosen for this year's art contest open to all grades and schools in Jackson. Entries will be on display all week at the Willer Building and finalists will be announced at 5:30 p.m. July 22 at Art Presentation Night.

Floral notecards, also for sale, are another example of the association's expanded mission. As a result of a 2005 partnership with the Cape County Master Gardeners and the Jackson Heritage Association, an heirloom flower garden was planted around the Oliver House grounds to honor former resident Marie Oliver, the designer of Missouri's state flag. The notecards are photographs of the heirloom flowers taken by Stoverink.

"This is an exciting time for us," Fosse said. "We have a few new board members with inspirational ideas. The board has consisted of the same people for years and it's good to have some new blood. It's a constant challenge to keep people interested."

An upcoming ice cream social with Frank Nickell, director of the Center for Regional History at Southeast Missouri State University, as speaker is planned for September.

The association meets at 7 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month in the Community Room at city hall on the third floor. For more information, contact Fosse at 243-6188.


335-6611, extension 133

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Commemorative programs

Commemorative Homecomers 2008 programs will recognize Marybeth Williams, former executive director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, who, before her death, was instrumental in the 100th anniversary of Homecomers and Jackson pageants held twice annually in Jackson.

The 2008 program, 56 pages long, tells the history of Homecomers, including interruptions in the celebration, unsuccessful and successful financial years, war hysteria influences, special lighting in 1940 and acrobatic feats performed in front of the courthouse without safety nets. A history of the courthouse is also included. If all the available programs are sold at $5 each, the Oliver House furnace will almost be paid for.

Included in the program are photos of the "Big Snow" of 1918; South High Street in 1937 showing the Palace Theater, Blick's Saloon and Pool Hall; and Homecomers spectators viewing the festivities from the roof and windows of the courthouse.

There will also be 20-by-30-inch posters printed by The Jackson Herald Co. for Cape Girardeau County's Home Coming Association held in September 1908 available for $5.

Copies of the 2002 Jackson history book will be available for $60 and $89. Postcards and 4-by-6-inch photos at $1 and prices for poster-sized photos at $38 will also be offered.

Memorabilia fans attending the All-Alumni night July 26 will see a sampling of Jackson Heritage Association historic photos, programs and postcards and have the opportunity to make purchases. Items will be available for sale after Homecomers by contacting Cathi Stoverink at 243-4667, 450-5784 or jacksonheritage@live.com.

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