Endangered Historic Places to Keep Your Eye On
Watched properties are no less important than those listed as Places in Peril but might not be in immediate danger.
The Barbagallo House
Kimmswick, Jefferson County
Listed as a Place in Peril for the first time in 2018, the historic Barbagallo House is already enjoying its second life. Thought to be originally constructed in the 1850s, the house once stood at 9050 Green Park Road in St. Louis County. It was constructed on land belonging to John Peter Didier, a native of France who served as Missouri’s first State Treasurer. It is a one-story building on a raised basement foundation and is a significant example of French creole architecture in the region. In 1975 the house was donated to Lucianna Gladney-Ross by Barbagallo descendants. Mrs. Gladney-Ross was instrumental in the renaissance in the town of Kimmswick, having helped to finance the restoration of several historic homes and the dismantling and reassembly of some others in the town, including the Barbagallo House. After the death of Mrs. Gladney-Ross in 2012, the home was sold, and in the years since her death has been transferred to three other owners. During this time both the front and back porches to the house have been removed, and the building has fallen into severe disrepair. It is hoped that by listing here, that the current owner might seek to improve the conditions at the house or sell to a preservation-minded owner, and that the City of Kimmswick might adopt some sort of preservation ordinance aimed at protecting historic resources in this tiny tourist town.
As of October 2019 we have had news that the owner is showing interest in selling off some of the historic properties that she owns. We hope the Barbagallo House might find a new owner who will take the time to restore this gem!
Burlington Northern Depot
Bethany, Harrison County
Listed as a Place in Peril in 2018. The former Burlington Northern Railway Depot in Bethany was the last active depot in Harrison County. It originated in 1880 when the first train arrived on October 28. The building represents a typical depot design, with a low pitched hipped roof with wide overhanging eaves, and inside a large passenger waiting area, baggage and freight area, and an office and ticket window. The depot was the center of activity prior to World War I as the station employed a station agent, a freight agent and a telegrapher. Four daily passenger and freight trains passed through Bethany. The trains were met by reporters, taxis and drays, and lunches were brought for railway passengers. Scores of riders came to the station on their way to the annual Northwest Missouri State Fair. Circus animals as well as solders were picked up at the station at various points in its history. Today the depot is threatened due to neglect. Boards on the inside and outside decks are in good condition, but the floors are sagging and in need of shoring. The building’s exterior needs to be repaired and painted. Interior walls and ceilings are damaged, and termite infestation was recently remediated. It is hoped that listing on Missouri’s Place in Peril will help bring awareness of the plight of the depot to citizens interested in its preservation. The City of Bethany plans to earmark a small portion of their 2019 budget for repairs at the depot, but the City’s funds will not be enough for a full renovation. It is hoped that a restored depot would not only contribute to a sense of pride in Bethany’s history, but might also house an events venue and farmers market in the summer months.
As of October 2019 we have not heard any updates on the condition of the depot or future plans. It does not appear that funds for the depot have been included on their 2019 City Budget, which can be found on the city website.
The Starke-Meinershagen-Boeke Rural Historic District
Marthasville (vicinity), Warren County
The Starke-Meinershagen-Boeke Rural Historic District dates back to 1863 when Ludwig Starke, a native of Germany, purchased the first two parcels of land on which the eventual 110 acre farmstead would sit. The I-house and brick smokehouse, were constructed between time of purchase and 1870, when Starke sold the property to Frederich J. Meinershagen. Meinershagen then sold the farm to Henry Boeke in 1882, where it remained in Boeke family hands until the death of John Boeke until 1930. The other five contributing resources on the property were built during the early 20th century and include a gambrel roof barn, two machine sheds, a garage and a hen house. The I-house and smokehouse both feature design and construction methods common to the Missouri-German Vernacular style — contributing to its National Register listing under Criterion C: Architecture. The property was also listed under Criterion A in the area of agriculture, as the layout of the farm and records indicate it was a prosperous farming operation under all three significant owners. After Boeke’s death in 1930, the farm was sold on the courthouse steps to Dr. Grover Johnson. Johnson sold the property in the 1970’s and the land was divided up into smaller parcels. The original property remains much intact and the bulk of the land surrounding it is still used for agricultural purposes. More information on the property’s historic can be found in the National Register nomination.
The farm’s current owner has wishes to rehabilitate the buildings and develop a bed and breakfast that will cater to the nearby Katy Trail. His plans were put on hold after the property was hit by the flooding of the Missouri River in both 1993 and 1995. While the buildings sustained minimal damage and still retain historical integrity, the owner has had difficulty re-obtaining funds for redevelopment (which were revoked following the 1993 flood due to the location on a flood plain). After substantial rebuilding and changes to flood plains up and downstream, the Starke-Meinershagen-Boeke Rural Historic District has not experienced any flooding during the major floods of the past 10 years. The owner still has plans of rehabilitating the property but needs interested investors. Anyone interested in getting involved can contact the Missouri Preservation office.
Kansas City Board of Education & Library Building
Kansas City, Jackson County
The Kansas City Public Library and Board of Education Building (National Register nomination here) occupies a full city block at 1211 McGee Street in the heart of Kansas City’s central business district. The building consists of a modernist black glass and aluminum covered nine-story office tower atop a two story new formalist style stone base, much in the style of Mies van der Rohe. It was designed by prominent local architect, Edward W. Tanner and was completed in 1960. The interior of the building is divided into three distinct spaces, consisting of the library at the base, office tower above, and parking garage to the rear, at the building’s south façade. Having retained its integrity of location and setting, design, materials and workmanship, it has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The public library moved from this location approximately fifteen years ago, and in the ensuing years, tenancy by the Kansas City Board of Education had diminished until the building became completely empty two years ago. Offered for sale by the Kansas City School Repurposing Initiative, a hotel corporation announced plans to demolish the building and construct a 242-room hotel on the site. In the wake of what it called an inadequate incentives package offered by the City, the hotel developers just this week withdrew plans for the hotel development. It is hoped that by listing here a new developer might be found that would utilize the historic preservation tax credit as one of its financial incentives and be able to retain and renovate the building, which has been put back on the real estate market by Kansas City Public Schools.
As of October 2019 the building has been sold. The announcement of the sale to Kansas City real estate company Copaken Brooks was made the day after the official release of our 2019 Places in Peril list. It is said that there are no immediate plans for the property, but the building will most likely be demolished. Help us encourage Copaken Brooks to REUSE the building instead of demolishing it. As a Kansas City-founded business, they should promote the city’s preservation.
Old Nevada Post Office
Nevada, Vernon County
The last couple of decades of the 19th century brought phenomenal growth to the town of Nevada, Missouri. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad came in the 1870s. The W.F. Norman Company, known for its manufacture of pressed metal products, including tin ceilings (still in business here and using the same wooden molds), was established in the 1880s, as well as Cottey College. In 1887 the State of Missouri constructed State Mental Hospital Number 3 here, which eventually employed over 1,100 employees. Then in 1897 came the Weltmer Institute. Its founder, Sidney Weltmer believed that healing could be a successful business. He authored the book, “How to make Magnetic Healing Pay,” and practitioners performed mental healing through telepathy and mental suggestion. The institute treated hundreds of people a day, and employed 17 healers and over 100 stenographers and typists just to process the daily mail. The need for a large local post office was evident, and the US Postal Service upgraded the Nevada post office to Class A and constructed a beautiful and commodious building in 1910. The 6,000 square foot building was designed by James Knox Taylor (1857-1929) who was the Supervising Architect of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1897 to 1912. Mr. Taylor studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and for a time was partners in an architectural firm with Cass Gilbert. Taylor designed many notable buildings in his time, including the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, Denver and Philadelphia Mint buildings, as well as US Post Offices from New York to San Francisco. Plans to build a new Nevada post office were announced in 1961, and when completed the old building was taken over by the county Sheriff’s Department and the county jail. Eventually a new facility was constructed for the office and jail, and the former post office building was auctioned off in May of 2012 as surplus property. The building has been empty and improperly maintained since then. With the guidance of Missouri Preservation, local museum director Will Tollerton recently completed an eligibility request for the National Register of Historic Places for the post office building and the State Historic Preservation Office found the building eligible for listing, making it likewise eligible for the state and federal historic tax credit. The current owner is interested in selling and any interested buyer should contact Mr. Will Tollerton at (417)667-9602.
As of October 2019 the building is still for sale. We hope continuing to share the property fill find it a preservation-minded buyer.
Union, Franklin County
Vitt’s Mill was the site where on October 1, 1864, General Sterling Price’s Army of Missouri attacked three companies of Union Militia. The local Union home guard fortified the mill prior to the attack. After the Union Army fled, it is reported that the Confederate troops remained for several days to mill flour for their supplies.
Aside from a nearby plaque erected in 2013 that provides information about the battle, little has been done to recognize or preserve the mill. Many are unaware of the building’s history. Urban development is happening around the mill at a brisk pace and the nominator is concerned that the historic battlefield will be lost to the modern era.
Historic Resources at Missouri State Parks
Listed as Places in Peril in 2018, with many individual sites being included on the list in years prior. Missouri’s state parks not only include public lands and natural features essential to recreation. They also include many historic structures, such as the Philip Kaes homestead and cemetery in Castlewood State Park (St. Louis County) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) structures in Sam A. Baker State Park (Wayne County) and Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park (St. Louis County). Historic resources within these parks and thousands of other historic and potentially historic structures within Missouri’s State Parks are crumbling due to funding limitations. Meanwhile, millions of dollars have gone toward the establishment of new state parks, some with luxury lodge accommodations in the past several years, resulting in under-funding of maintenance and improvements at existing parks and historic sites. Deferred maintenance in the National Parks system is currently being addressed in the US Legislature in the National Parks Legacy Act, which would address the severe backlog of maintenance and capital improvement projects. It is hoped that by listing here, our Division of State Parks might seek to encourage similar legislation to provide the same type of funding to address the backlog and ongoing maintenance needs of historic resources in Missouri’s system of State Parks and Historic Sites.
As of October 2019 there still hasn’t been an effort to focus more funds on the preservation or even up-keep of historic resources at many of our state parks.
Former Lincoln School
Jackson, Cape Girardeau County
Though certainly earlier buildings existed prior, the earliest evidence found of a school building in Jackson for the African American community comes from 1892, when it was noted that the Knights of Tabor Hall at 107 Cherry Street was being used as the black school. Then in 1894 the first Lincoln School on Union Street was constructed for the instruction of Jackson’s African American students, and was the center of the black community until a flood destroyed the building in 1946. The second Lincoln School (pictured here), situated on a lot at the intersection of Oklahoma and West Jefferson avenues was constructed in 1947 and was used for educating black children until 1953, when they were integrated into the white schools. For two years the school was used for kindergarten and first grade, then was remodeled and used as administrative offices in the late 1950s. District administration remained here until 1988 when the building was again remodeled for use as a support services building for Jackson Public Schools. The Lincoln School building is significant as the largest, newest and only African American school building in Jackson and one of only two remaining in the County. In June of 2017 the Jackson R-2 School District demolished the historic former Jackson High School built in 1920, and the School superintendent has been quoted as saying this would be “the next to go.” By listing here, the citizens of Jackson hope that awareness of this proposed demolition will serve as a call to action to implore the School District to halt demolition and find an alternative use for this historic building.
As of October 2019 there has been no news or changes.
Henry Miller House
Bloomfield, Stoddard County
The house has been listed as a Place in Peril in the past. This house was constructed sometime between 1845 and 1849 for Henry Miller, a civic leader and merchant who was prominent in the early swamp land reclamation movement in Southeast Missouri and was also involved in the creation and promotion of the Cairo & Fulton Railroad Company in the 1850s. Known architecturally as an “I-House,” it is believed to be the oldest in Stoddard County and one of the oldest houses in Southeast Missouri. The interior of the house retains much of its original material, with the exception of minor repairs. The house was used as a residence continually from the time it was constructed until about 1979 and has been vacant ever since. The house has since fallen into general disrepair from neglect, some siding is missing, and the porch collapsed and was removed. A $200,000.00 grant was received several years ago to restore the house, but after one of the contractors failed to produce, the grant was forfeited. Student volunteers from the Historic Preservation Association at Southeast Missouri State University were responsible for getting the Miller House listed on the National Register of Historic Places (2018), and have been working to stabilize the structure, but the building is still in need of total renovation.
As of October 2019 there has been little change at the Miller House. The group is still in need of donations to start the restoration process. Donations can be sent to:
Miller House Restoration
PO Box 625
Bloomfield, MO 63825
The Russell Hotel
Charleston, Mississippi County
The red brick and terra cotta Russell Hotel was built in 1917 by Congressman Joseph J. Russell at a cost of $50,000.00. This three-story block on a raised basement was reportedly one of the finest hotels in Southeast Missouri, and unusually large for a town the size of Charleston. It was managed by John Marable who in 1921 purchased the hotel from Congressman Russell, paying for it in full. The basement level of the hotel was known as the “Cellar” and was a popular night club and dance hall, which over the years hosted some of the finest orchestras in the country. The hotel itself closed several years ago, but a group of partners purchased the building with the intention of creating a bed and breakfast in the former hotel. An art gallery and the first floor restaurant remained open until 2008, when the partners abandoned the building as a result of discovering that their rehabilitation loan had not been guaranteed. A developer would be welcomed with open arms by this community, which cherishes this historic site, one of the single largest building in this charming Southeast Missouri town.
As of October 2019 there has been no change.
Rte. 66 Gasconade River Bridge
Hazelgreen (vicinity), Laclede County
The Route 66 Bridge over the Gasconade River near Hazelgreen consists of a three-span through truss structure which was designed by the Missouri Highway Department and fabricated by the Illinois Steel Company of Chicago between 1922 and 1924. It represents one of the few bridges remaining from the 1920’s and constructed even before the Federal Aid Highway Act, which established a national highway system in 1925. Route 66 is without a doubt the most famous road in America. The bridges and roads that are part of the Route 66 corridor are important because they characterize Missouri and the changes that took place as a result of the automobile. Scenic byways such as Missouri’s Route 66 have value not only for aesthetics and preservation, but are also a way to promote heritage tourism and increase tourism income. Historical records show that there has long been an absence of repair and maintenance at this bridge. The Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen was reported for several years to be deficient, but no remediation done to correct its problems. Then in 2014 the bridge was permanently closed to traffic. Recently Pulaski County and the Missouri Department of Transportation reopened a similar Route 66 bridge, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge. The effort was funded in large part with grant money. The Route 66 Gasconade River Guardians received a National Park Service matching grant in the amount of $6000, and the group is now pursuing an engineering assessment to determine the structural status of the Bridge. When completed they hope to more actively pursue a new owner for the Bridge, as the Missouri Department of Transportation has plans to begin demolition in March 2019 if a suitable new owner is not identified. It is hoped the assessment will be a tool to estimate repair costs to make the bridge safe for pedestrian, bicycle or vehicular traffic. It is hoped the Route 66 Gasconade River Guardians can continue their work to help raise awareness and needed funds to find it possible to reopen this iconic bridge on the “mother road.”