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Church to raze historic downtown Cape building

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The building at 501 Broadway was recently bought by Trinity Lutheran Church. Earlier this month, the church got a permit to demolish the two-story brick structure.
(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
A Cape Girardeau building that has been on Broadway for 105 years isn't likely to see its 106th.

Trinity Lutheran Church has asked for -- and been issued -- a demolition permit by city officials that gives it until late December to tear down the building at 501 Broadway, a structure now best known for the large mural on its west wall.

The permit, which cost the church $20, was issued Nov. 8 and is good for 45 days from that date, said Tim Morgan, director of the city's Inspection Services Department.

While the church could ask for an extension, Morgan said he has been given no reason to believe the two-story brick building that was built in 1906 won't come down during the permit's time frame.

The church has already proven it has had the utilities turned off, as required, Morgan said. Morgan and church leaders did not know the exact day the building would come down. But the church has hired Sabre Excavating of Thebes, Ill., to do the work. David Renshaw, of Sabre, did not return phone calls Monday.

A chain-link fence has already been put up around the building, which the city requires of certain demolition projects, Morgan said. The contractor has also been informed, he said, that it is responsible for rerouting traffic on that section of Broadway the day the building is razed.

Requirements can be met with barricades or flagmen, Morgan said, as well as proper signage. The city has no further involvement, Morgan said, other than to make sure it's properly cleaned up afterward.

"Once they prove the utilities have been turned off, it's in their hands," Morgan said.

Ideas being discussed

The church's pastor, the Rev. Doug Breite, said the church has yet to "fully determine" what will be done with the space once the 12,500-square-foot building comes down. Some ideas that are being discussed include using it for green space, parking or a mix of both, Breite said.

Breite also did not know exactly when the building will come down.

"But the fence went up around the building, which indicates to me it will be sooner rather than later," he said.

The church bought the building over the summer from Bob Cotner, whose family had owned it since 1919. Over the years, the building has been home to an auto parts store, a mercantile company, SEMO Video and other commercial endeavors.

Cotner allowed Trinity to commission the painting of the mural, which says, "Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it."

While there had been talk of somehow saving the mural -- perhaps taken down brick by brick -- Breite said the mural will be destroyed with the building, though he noted that they have taken several pictures of the mural.

Breite also said that, whatever the church does, it wants to ensure the space complements the Broadway corridor project that calls for $3.85 million in upgrades.

"I think the main thing is that whatever is done will be done tastefully to enhance the Broadway corridor," Breite said.

The building is in the Broadway-Middle Commercial Historic District, which includes the 500 block of Broadway and the 100 block of North Middle Street. But that designation provides the building no protection from demolition, since it was not declared a local landmark.

Old Town Cape executive director Marla Mills said it was not her preference to have the building come down. But she said she understands the decision by a property owner.

She said she also hopes church leaders will keep in mind that the corner is along a heavily used thoroughfare.

"We'd hope that they would utilize the principles for pedestrian areas and urban walkways," Mills said. "We've met with them and during our meeting they said they were interested in those ideas, and I'm sure they will look into the best ways they can do that."



Pertinent address:

501 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

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It's a shame to see a building that old go down, I doubt it's replacment will last so long.

-- Posted by Tech_Dude on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 5:53 AM

Yeah, tear down a historical building to replace with god knows what. Another great idea via institution.

-- Posted by steak66 on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 6:43 AM

Maybe they could turn this building into something more useful than a "green area" or parking lot etc. Maybe a homeless shelter or food bank to actually help the community?

-- Posted by steak66 on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 6:45 AM

Call me silly, but I hope this catches on and more of these old, nasty buildings come down. Broadway is a disgrace.

-- Posted by Tax__Payer on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 7:26 AM

Amen to Tax Payer! Broadway needs to clean house! It's about time some more of these eyesores come down.

-- Posted by wolfwoman on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 7:39 AM

Why buy it just to tear it down? Another parking lot? I guess this is the answer property owners who don't want to maintain their buildings are coming up with. Keep a property until it is a crumbling disaster--then tear it down. Why doesn't our city enforce maintenance of buildings before they get to that state of decay? Pretty sure a 'corridor' of parking lots is not the pituresque vision Isle of Capri has in mind for casino visitors.

-- Posted by Catbert on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 7:52 AM

Indeed! Considering how strict the building codes are in Cape anyway. You can let a building completely dilapidate until bricks are falling from the sky, but see how smoothly an add-on to your small business goes.

-- Posted by steak66 on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 8:08 AM

The only qualification that building offers regarding "historical" is that it is old...and ugly to boot.

Tear it down, quit whining, and move on.

You people are pathetic.

-- Posted by Hawker on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 8:21 AM

you have to admit the new semo parking lot looks better than howards and the old gas station.. so maybe it's not a bad thing if done tastefully.

-- Posted by peter_grant on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 8:22 AM

"I think the main thing is that whatever is done will be done tastefully to enhance the Broadway corridor."

Sorry, but a parking lot or "green space" (bureaucratspeak for planting a few trees and shrubs) is less tasteful, less "enhanced," and plainly less attractive than a restored brick building, especially one with a historic mural. The smart thing to do for this building, and the rest of Broadway is restoration and business development.

-- Posted by Mark Rutledge on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 8:51 AM

I for one hate to see it go! My family had their family business there from the time I was a small child until my early 20 when they moved to another location. It has a lot a memories for me growing up and watching my grandma, dad and uncle work. I will miss it.

-- Posted by 2sweetpeas on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 9:01 AM

Mark Rutledge, Unless you OWN the property or are the city who should be enforcing city ordinancies, you really don't have a vote.

-- Posted by Stooges on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 9:20 AM

the lettering on the mural has bothered me ever since they painted it on there...it's too dang big to read with such close quarters of that block

regarding the suggestion in turning the space into another food bank or homeless shelter... no please don't

-- Posted by TommyStix on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 9:43 AM

Just what Cape needs...another possible parking lot! Disgusting!

I agree that no one should care what the casino will think but why don't we care as a city? This city has/had a lot of history and it's slowly being torn down and paved over.

Did any of you posters who are always so happy to see a building torn down in Cape grow up here? Many of us who did cannot share your happiness at getting another parking lot.

-- Posted by Bickiestew on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 10:22 AM

Wasn't it once a Sherman-Williams paint store? Like, maybe, 30 or 40 years ago?

-- Posted by truthselfevident on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 10:53 AM


No, it was not a Sherwin Williams. It was Cape Paint & Glass. The back of the building was used for the glass part and the front of the building was paint and wall paper.

-- Posted by 2sweetpeas on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 12:56 PM

I don't like the overuse of the word "historic". Every building that is over 50 years old is "historic" according to the Missourian.

Did something significant happen in that building? Does it have an architectural style worth preserving? No. It's just an old, utilitarian building. It's just like the old Howard's building. Nothing in the slightest bit historic about it.

The headline should read "Church to raze old downtown building"

-- Posted by FSM06 on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 2:56 PM

"Church to raze old downtown building" lol

-- Posted by ziggie on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 3:11 PM

FSM06- So, what do you consider historic?

Some reading material:


Scroll down, look for the Broadway Middle Historic District. Read.

It does have an architectural style worth preserving as do many of the structures along Broadway, Spanish, Main, South Sprigg, etc. These historic structures are components of our city's built environment. Just because they are not a "high-style" or noticeably architecturally significant to the general public does not make them any less important to this community's history.

What these historic commercial buildings represent is a piece of Cape Girardeau's economic past and the growth and evolution of the city. To say they are not important is the easy and quickest answer--because they don't stand out, they aren't a high style or grand but what they do possess is the ability to tell the story of this community's heritage. Tell me, how can we look back and teach our future generations about economic growth and the evolution of this city with a parking lot or a green space?

All I see there is an example of the destruction and the resulting extinction of an important architectural style in this community.

-- Posted by scadgrad23 on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 4:05 PM

What exactly do you mean to prove by that list? The state of Missouri's lax standards, or how easy it is to apply for tax credits?

What exactly is the architectural style that is worth preserving in that plain brick building? Does it have a name? Who was the architect who designed it? What subtle architectural brilliance is my untrained eye missing?

By your standards, it would seem that any building that has ever housed a business is worth preserving to show economic growth. What on earth does that former auto parts store tell about the "story of this community's heritage"? If it tells a story, it's a pointless one no one cares about.

-- Posted by FSM06 on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 6:33 PM

I'm for tearing that old building down. Kudos to the church for recognizing that the building has outlived itself. I don't mind if it's a parking lot. Greenspace would be the best thing, even if it is a few trees and shrubs. I don't see any opportunity for new businesses - that went out the window with the Town Plaza and the mall on the outskirts of town out by the highway.

-- Posted by Beaker on Tue, Nov 15, 2011, at 10:04 PM

Hey Scudgrad..."Tell me, how can we look back and teach our future generations about economic growth and the evolution of this...blah, blah, blah?

Digital archive it. Hey you could use one of those new 3-D scene capture units as seen on TV. Then you can teach future generations...blah, blah, blah,...all you want, anytime you want.

-- Posted by Hawker on Wed, Nov 16, 2011, at 8:53 AM

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