Kemper Military School & College & Administration Building

Cooper County

2002 — Kemper Military School is the oldest military school west of the Mississippi. The alumni list includes names of local, state and national significance. The Kemper campus consists of thirteen buildings which date from 1842 to the mid-1950s, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the buildings suffer from years of deferred maintenance due to the school’s lack of funds. This financial crisis forced the school into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000. Although the school has been reorganized and continues to operate, the extent of work needed on buildings across the campus is daunting.

Update: The school officially closed in 2002 and the City of Boonville purchased the property in 2003.

Update: In 2008 there was a proposal to transform the former school from Kansas City-based Kemper Development, LLC.

Update: In 2012, the City of Boonville finalized an agreement with State Fair Community College for a 5-year lease of one of the buildings.

2015 — The Kemper Military School and College was founded in Boonville in 1844 by Frederick T. Kemper as a boarding school and until its closure in 2002 was the oldest operating military school west of the Mississippi River. The Kemper Academy district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The campus consists of eight buildings owned by the City of Boonville. Of these eight, two have been refurbished and one is currently undergoing renovation. The remainder of the buildings on the campus are empty and most suffer from some sort of deferred maintenance. Since the construction of the Administration Building, it has been added to a number of times. In 2010 the tower located in the northwest corner collapsed, the biggest culprit being water infiltration. According to an engineering report from 2013, “the budget for repairs (to the building) will probably exceed any financial benefit from return for this structure. The southeast portion of the building appears to be the best option for any salvage if the city desires to keep this building as an asset on the campus and history of Boonville.” Based on the report the City Council approved measures to move forward with the demolition. The Kemper Alumni Association nominator to the Places in Peril contends that there is support from within the Friends of Historic Boonville, Kemper Alumni Association and the City of Boonville to preserve the buildings of the campus. It is hoped that by listing here that attention will be called to the plight of the Administration Building, and that the Kemper Alumni Association might be able to raise funds for stabilization and repairs to this and other empty campus buildings.

Listed in 2002 and 2015.

Update: In 2016 the City worked with the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission to secure a grant to renovate the Science Hall. This building was transformed into an IT training center for the State Fair Community College.

Update: Administration building demolished in 2016

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