Cape Girardeau County
Built in 1857, the French Colonial structure is one of the last examples in Cape Girardeau of this type of architecture that was so widespread in the Mississippi River Valley in the early 19th century. The Reynolds House is ell-shaped with a gabled roof. The front portion contains a story and one-half with a loft and partial attic above four rooms and a hallway. Typical of the French Colonial style, a porch runs the full length of this front portion with the roof extending over the porch. There is a kitchen with overhead attic in the other wing and a two room cellar underneath the house. Five chimneys serve five first floor fireplaces. The Reynolds House is built of brick on a coursed rubble sandstone foundation with the porches secured on brick and sandstone piers. Although now in seriously deteriorated condition, the house is one of the least altered buildings in Cape Girardeau from this period, with many of the original Georgian features intact.
The Reynolds House is associated with three prominent Cape Girardeau historical figures. The house was built for James Reynolds, a prominent business man and co-owner of the Union Steam Mills. The huge Union Steam Mills building was completed nearby in downtown Cape Girardeau the same year as the Reynolds House. Joseph Lansmon, a French born building, completed both structures. An important figure in the history of Cape’s built environment, Lansmon’s credits include the Common Pleas Courthouse (1854), St. Mary’s Cathedral (1868), and the covered bridge (1858) at the Bollinger Mill State Historic Site. Lansmon often worked with the architect Edwin Branch Deane, another major figure in Cape’s architectural history. As is the case with the Reynolds House, many of Cape Girardeau’s most significant residential and commercial buildings of the mid-19th century were collaborations between these two men.
Currently, the Reynolds House suffers from demolition by neglect. The Historical Association of Greater Cape Girardeau, which owns the Reynolds House, also owns and operates the Glenn House, a Victorian House museum. Unfortunately, the Historical Association’s meager financial and manpower resources are stretched thin, and the vast majority of these go towards the Glenn House. The Historical Association and the City of Cape Girardeau have identified the stabilization, rehabilitation, and renovation of the Reynolds House as priorities and stabilization recommendations were prepared for the structure. Unfortunately, the necessary stabilization recommendations have not been implemented due to lack of funding and the Reynolds House has continued to deteriorate.