f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

Schonhoff Dairy barn converted to church

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2015, at 12:00 AM

The old Schonhoff barn, a landmark in the city of Cape Girardeau, will remain one in the future, said the Rev. Jack Strickland, pastor of the Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church. (Southeast Missourian, Jan. 17, 1975)

In 1910, Franz Schonhoff established a dairy farm on the west side of Cape Girardeau, spanning the south and north sides of Independence Street. Established with six cows and a few acres, the farm would grow to 200 animals and more than 130 acres. Schonhoff's sons would later take over the family business. It was the first dairy farm in the Cape Girardeau to introduce Holstein cattle to the area, and it was the first dairy farm to qualify for Grade A milk.

During World War II, Schonhoff Dairy supplied milk to Harris Field. In March 1970, the dairy farm experienced the growth demands of city expansion to the west. Franz Schonhoff's sons, Raymond, Leo, Walter and Alphonse M., sold 136 acres of the farm, including a dairy barn on Independence Street, to Charles N. Harris, Loy Crites and LaRoy Roper for residential development.

In 1975, the barn was acquired by the Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church for $100,000 and was converted into a church. Haylofts were made into the auditoriums, with the upper risers becoming balconies. Central heat and air was installed. The first level is used as the fellowship hall, and the 40 cow stanchions are still intact. The restrooms are in the silos, which have been lowered and the tops capped off. The barn is an excellent example of how to save one of Cape Girardeau's historic resources through adaptive reuse.

--by Terri Foley, Lost and Saved Landmarks

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Haylofts in the auditorium of the barn now serve as balconies for the church, above. Furnishings for the church will be constructed to blend with the decor, said the pastor. The wagon-wheel lights will remain intact, as will the saddles, yokes, curry combs, horseshoes and bridles on the walls.

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The milking stalls, located on the lower floor of the building, will remain intact, said the pastor. (Fred Lynch photos)

Jan. 17, 1975 Southeast Missourian

Barn transformed to Baptist Church

By Pat Hindman

The old Schonhoff barn. Many remember the barn as the Schonhoff dairy which served the Cape Girardeau area for several years. The younger set remembers it simply as "The Barn," a gala and elegant nightclub that featured Nashville entertainment but survived only briefly in the city. Whatever the impression, the large red barn which sits commandingly amid new apartment complexes in the 2000 block of Independence will remain a landmark, according to the Rev. Jack Strickland, pastor of the Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church that recently purchased the barn for their growing congregation.

Lighthouse Bible Baptist was established in June of last year with an attendance of 45 and attendance has increased monthly. Church members have since June been meeting in the Tucker Truck Line building. Last Sunday the growing congregation held their first service in their new church with over 200 in attendance.

Mr. Strickland is concerned with keeping the barn-now-turned-church as a landmark for the community. "We are trying to keep it as close to the original structure as possible," he said. "There is a lot of history behind the barn and we have plans of compiling the history into a book form."

In remodeling the barn, Mr. Strickland hopes to keep everything as close to the original decor as possible. The custom-made pulpit, the only item added by the church to the building so far, consists of gray barn-type paneling edged in black and blends perfectly into the decorating scheme.


The auditorium is on the ground level of the barn and haylofts have been transformed into balconies. Plans to tier the balconies are underway along with plans to construct a baptistry under the stained-glass window at the front of the auditorium.

Downstairs temporary Sunday School rooms will be constructed where the milking was once done. The black iron milking stalls for dairy cattle will be left untouched, said Rev. Strickland, and plans for the future are to build an educational building and remove the classrooms, making the downstairs an activity center. Bathrooms are located in the barn's silos.

In the entrance of the church old leather saddles, curry combs, horseshoes, bridles and yokes will remain on the walls, said Mr. Strickland as will the wagon wheel lanterns that form four chandeliers in the auditorium.


The cost of the building was $100,000, and approximately $8,000 worth of remodeling is to be completed in the future, said the pastor. Remodeling will begin within the next two weeks on the heating system. New force air heat and air conditioning will be installed. After that remodeling will have to be completed a step at a time as the money comes in to the church. Church members plan to do most of the remodeling work.

Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church is an independent church with the same beliefs and customs of the Baptist Church, Mr. Strickland said.

In this previous blog, the Schonhoff Dairy farm is visible in a 1940s aerial photo of the SEMO District Fair:

Early aerial of SEMO District Fair

In this blog, the Schonhoff Dairy farm can be seen in an aerial photo before Independence street was extended next to the barn:

West Cape Girardeau aerial in detail


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  • Fred,

    Thank you for publishing the article about our old dairy barn. My father was Raymond Schonhoff, one of the four brothers that started the Schonhoff Dairy. Walter and Leo were bachelors that lived with our family as we were growing up. Alphonse (Felix) lived in Cape on South Pacific.

    I am one of four children born to Raymond and Alma Stoll Schonhoff. I have one brother; Ray, and two sisters; Patsy (deceased) and Mary Ellen Schonhoff McKay.

    The Schonhoff family moved to Cape from Apple Creek in 1904 when my dad was one year old. My grandfather was a German immigrant arriving in the United States in 1879. He was a blacksmith by trade, but his wife's maiden name was Schabbing, and her family were the dairy farmers. Family lore says that she was the one that got the 'boys' started in the dairy business.

    In 1918 a local group of dairy farmers imported two train car loads of registered Holsteins from Wisconsin. It was a part of this shipment that would form the nucleus of the dairy herd the Schonhoff brothers would develop over the years.

    The dairy barn pictured was built in the early 1940s which was quite a feat considering the war years were going on. At the same time, Grade A milk processing plant was built and milk bottled in glass bottles which was delivered to the home every morning by the brothers and "bottle-hops". Bottle-hops would jump off the delivery truck and run the milk to the front porches of houses and pick up the empties and catch the truck at the end of the block. These bottles can be found at local auctions and antique stores. From what I have heard, these bottles fetch a high price.

    A positive aspect of the war years is that the milk produced there was used at Harris Field by the pilots training there to go to war. My dad told the story about when the Diversion Channel would flood he would get into a boat to take the milk to the airport for the pilots.

    With the increased demand for milk the brothers purchased the I.Ben Miller farm which was on the corner of Sprigg and Bertling in 1945. A registered Guernsey herd was purchased and put in production on that farm. It was sold in 1965.

    The glory years for the dairy were in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. With the advancing age of my dad, and his brothers, and the westward expansion of Cape after the interstate was built, led to the sale of the farm starting in 1969.

    The picture of the barn generates many fond memories for our family. Not only were cows milked there but there were basketball games played in the hayloft along with square dances and other parties. There is not too many buildings that are still standing from that era, especially barns, which also reflects the changing times, and perspectives of, and for, agriculture. We would like to thank the Lighthouse Baptist Church for keeping the barn as close to its original appearance as they have.

    -- Posted by stevejoe on Thu, Jan 29, 2015, at 5:00 PM