f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

The Last Chance Bar in 1949

Posted Friday, September 17, 2010, at 11:15 AM

Southeast Missourian, April 14, 1949

The 79-year-old building at the southwest corner of Broadway and Pacific street is getting its face lifted and besides, literally getting its pants patched. Built in 1870 by F.C. Kreager, father of Mrs. Josephine Daues, 117 North Frederick street, the structure has stood until the past year without any major improvements to speak of.

Several days ago, as is shown in the accompanying picture, an old addition to the building at the rear was torn down. This was used for many years as a smokehouse and in recent years for storage. A parking lot is being readied at the rear of the building with an entrance from Pacific street, and a new front is being constructed on the building.

Mr. Kreager operated a general store in the corner room of the building and a little later opened a saloon in the west side of the building, which then for more than 40 years was operated by Oscar Becker as the Last Chance establishment. Mr. Kreager also had one of the early general stores in the community, in a small building which stood at Broadway and Perry avenue.

Mr. Kreager died in 1882. Sherman Freeman came here from Egypt Mills and operated a general store in the corner room for more than 25 years. The Kreager family resided on the second floor of the building when it was erected and the second floor has since served as living quarters for many families. Anton Wulfers bought the building in 1916 and his sons have charge of the present business, now taking in all of the ground floor.


The building was razed in the 1990s.

Thanks to a comment below by jcwill.

Excerpt from June 7, 1993 Southeast Missourian:

Last Chance gets one more chance as High Water Cafe

It has been called the First Chance.

Also the Last Chance.

It once was known as the Second Chance.

Now, it may have one more chance.

A landmark building, which stands on ground originally owned by the Spanish commandant of the area, Don Louis Lorimier, has been purchased by its fourth owner in history, and will become the High Water Cafe, a tea and coffee shop.

At the time of construction, Pacific Street was the city limit and the road in front of the saloon was a narrow, dirt pike called Harmony.

The saloon was the "last chance" to have a drink before taking the Jackson Road to Jackson. Also the saloon was the "first chance" to get a drink before entering Cape Girardeau on Harmony Street.

Excerpt from July 24, 1995 Southeast Missourian:

French Village is out, Broadway Court is in.

The former "Last Chance" Saloon, a historic building that housed a bar or tavern for more than 100 of its 120 years, has been taken down at the corner of Broadway and Pacific. A new parking lot to serve the new Broadway Court has been added at that corner.

See this earlier blog for more on the Last Chance.


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  • You can see that neighborhood from the air here:


    It's amazing how many buildings that were there in 1966 are gone today: Howards, the old bottling company, the gas station on the corner, just to name a few.

    I'm glad that Vandeven's Merchantile has been given new life. It would be a shame to lose this Cape landmark.


    -- Posted by ksteinhoff on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 8:25 AM
  • Actually it was not razed in the 1980's. As I recall it was razed in the mid to late 1990's. The last establishment in that building was a coffee bar with LOTS of loud music. The place was packed but I think they did not handle their money very well. The old building went out with a bang at least.

    -- Posted by jcwill on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 9:51 AM
  • Christmas in July, followed by a swim across the river - such were summer breaks in Cape.

    -- Posted by semowasp on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 3:31 PM
  • The High Water was operating during the height of the "grunge" music scene. Us that had been playing this music for years suddenly found ourselves with an audience at the High Water.

    I used to leave my drums set up on stage for impromtu jam sessions. You never knew who was going to show up - it was open mic night almost every night. There would always be a jazz band student somewhere in the place. When you mix together a punk drummer, a laid back upright bass player, a guitarist that just bought his first electric last week and can't decide if he wants to be the next Johnny Ramone or the next Kurt Cobain, and a coronet player that listened to Sun Ra for relaxation - things got interesting.

    Some patrons of the High Water would write poetry while soaking in the auditory soup. Almost always somebody would get up between songs (there was plenty of time to write; some songs went on for an hour or more), grab a mic on the stage, and read a poem or two.

    One could also sit back, play Risk, chess or Chinese checkers, read some Noam Chomsky from the house library, make a sketch or painting and hang it on the wall, or just take it all in.

    I'm sure that I caught local legends The Honey Offering and Church of Bowling there several times, but it was the DIY spirit and the anything goes, all inclusive attitude that I will always associate the High Water Cafe with. Good times!

    -- Posted by Lumpy on Sat, Sep 18, 2010, at 9:01 AM
  • Which bottling company was in that area ?

    -- Posted by jacksonjazzman on Mon, Sep 20, 2010, at 1:31 PM
  • I see that the city council has moved the month of the Last Chance's Christmas in July celebration to September.

    -- Posted by semowasp on Thu, Sep 30, 2010, at 2:29 PM