Hanover Lutheran Church votes to save one-room schoolhouse

Monday, June 4, 2012

In April, the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission included Hanover Lutheran School as one of the city's 10 most endangered buildings as the church that owned it weighed its fate.

Looks like the old one-room school house can be taken off the list.

Hanover Lutheran Church parishoners voted 31 to 12 on Sunday in favor of saving the building built in 1924 that holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The church had been considering razing the school that sits along a winding stretch of Perryville Road in light of the news that it was in violation of three city codes.

On Sunday, its members solidly decided not to do that. Bonnie Kelpe said after the votes were tallied, she heaved a deep sigh of relief. Kelpe is the chairwoman of the committee that oversees the 22-by-50-foot building that educated students until 1957. She offered supporters her thanks Sunday evening.

"Some gave us money, some gave us moral support," Kelpe said. "We want to just thank anybody that even thought about us."

Bill Eddleman, the commission's vice chairman, said the organization had been waiting on the church's decision.

"This is a positive decision from our standpoint," he said. "Yes, it was on [the 10 most endangered] list. Its future was in question."

The building has served in the past as a Lutheran heritage museum, a meeting hall and a workshop for high school students. Now, Kelpe said, they intend to keep it open on a more regular basis as a museum and make it available to small groups for meetings. The church has already raised the $10,000 that it will take to address the city's concerns about the building that currently does not meet minimum property standards. A routine inspection last year of the exterior revealed that the school's roof, fascia, soffit and gutters are beginning to deteriorate.

The services of Stonewall Roofing Co. and Midwest Environmental Resources have been retained to make those repairs, which include a new roof, and to mitigate asbestos. The committee intends to meet with those businesses this week and Kelpe said she expects the work to be completed within the next 30 days.

Kelpe said the community should be relieved that the building will be saved, considering she has been told it is one of the last 50 such school houses left in the country. She hopes children will visit the school and see how far the educational system has come.

"The kids today don't realize how much they've got," she said. "They don't realize our forefathers had blackboards. There were no computers. You had to use your head to think. They need to understand what their parents and grandparents did to make a better place for them. This is where they learned."

Eddleman said much of the commission's job is to educate the public and encourage historic preservation.

"People constantly think that we ought to do something about buildings," he said. "We don't have the authority to do anything about buildings."





Pertinent address:

2949 Perryville Road, Cape girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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