Safety concerns prompted repairs to Esquire Theater

Thursday, November 7, 2013
Repair work is performed Oct. 16 on the marquee of the Esquire Theater, 824 Broadway, in Cape Girardeau. The theater operated from 1947 to 1984. (Fred Lynch)

The Esquire Theater has undergone repairs over the last few weeks -- the most visible work anyone has seen on the aging building since renovation plans for the theater fell through last year.

David Suntrup on Wednesday said his home repair and restoration business is under contract with the building's owner, Phil Brinson, to repair the front of the building at 824 Broadway and its facade to eliminate hazards the building poses to pedestrians and to make the building "more acceptable to the eye."

Brinson approached Suntrup a few months ago about the project, which Suntrup said he hopes to finish by the middle of next week.

Phone calls to Brinson were not returned as of Wednesday evening.

Cape Girardeau city inspections division director Tim Morgan said the repair work is being done for safety reasons and to "cover up an eyesore." There is no renovation or interior work being done, he said.

The deterioration of the theater's marquee had worsened in the last two years to where pieces of it were falling off or loose in the wind, Morgan said. Every time strong winds caused a piece to fall from the building, a call had to be made to Brinson to take care of it and secure other loose pieces. It recently got to the point where the city had to tell Brinson to cover and secure that part of the building, or other action would be taken, he said.

"It just had to be dealt with," Morgan said.

Anyone within Cape Girardeau may make a property maintenance-complaint, according the city of Cape Girardeau website. Some situations that may fall under the development code ordinance regarding property maintenance include properties in a state of dilapidation, deterioration or decay, the website says.

The Esquire Theater operated from 1947 to 1984 and has remained vacant since. The theater is on the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission's 2013 Endangered Buildings List and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 among those properties with "unique" architectural properties.

In 2012, John Buckner boasted plans of a $2.7 million renovation project to save the building and turn it into a 500-seat art house theater. It later was revealed Buckner never bought the building from Brinson, and plans for the property fizzled.

Suntrup said Brinson plans to sell the theater.


Pertinent address:

824 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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