Marquette Hotel

Cape Girardeau
Cape Girardeau County

Designed by the St. Louis Architectural firm of Manske & Bartlin, the 81-room mMarquette was lauded as the grand dame of Southeast Missouri and considered one of the most modern hotels of its day with its fireproof steel-reinforced concrete construction. Its elegant exterior suggested European influence with its Spanish and Mediterranean Revival decoration. A buff brick exterior is accented with elaborate terra cotta ornamentation, tile, and wrought iron. Elegant corner towers with diamond-patterned brickwork, balconied double arched opening, and tile roofs articulate the roof line of the front elevation.

The building’s modern interior featured an impressive two story lobby space adorned with painted tile floors and wainscoting. large pillars define the space and leads on’e eye to a beamed ceiling embellished with hand painted stenciling in bright blues, red and greens. Heavy crimson colored valances embroidered richly in gold with match side hangings of silk brocaded damask embellished the lobby’s windows. 45 wrought iron electroliers illuminated the lobby space. Ornamental iron balconies defined the mezzanine level. Upholstered furniture, marble topped tables lamps with shades in a variety of coordinating tones, and a mantel with an elegant oil painting anchoring one end of the lobby completed the sumptuous principal public space. A banquet hall and smaller dining room with terrazzo flooring and walnut furniture, a lounge area, barber shop, even a radio station, and rooftop garden were located in the hotel in addition to the 81 guest rooms.

The Marquette’s creation was due to local interest for economic growth fueled b a growing tourism market that had developed after a bridge was built linking Cape Girardeau to Illinois. Spearheaded by local community leaders and the Chamber of Commerce, the financing and construction of a hotel was made possible through the sale of stocks. Preferred stock, bearing 6% cumulative interest was sold for $100 per share and common stock was sold for $5 a share. $100,000 in stock was offered to Cape Girardeans and nearly $60,000 was purchased by local citizens with the remainder purchased by out-of-town sources with local connections.

The Hotel was initially owned by the Cape Girardeau Hotel Company whose board of directors included some of the leading local citizens and stock holders in the hotel project. One member, R. Dickenson fo Chicago, represented the Marquette Cement Manufacturing Company, in whose company name the hotel was supposedly named.

After the Depression, the Berberich chain acquired the Marquette and mad it a sister hotel to the Governor in Jefferson City. For many years the Marquette reigned as the grand hotel of the area, treating its guests to the best accommodations available. Needs and trends changed and the hotel’s guest list and revenue diminished. The Marquette closed its doors on June 23, 1971 after nearly 43 years of service.

30 years later the Marquette still dominates the skyline of Cape Girardeau and is a landmark on historic Broadway. Its luster, however, has been diminished by nearly 30years of deferred maintenance. Stripped of many of its interior appointments, the last of which were auctioned in 1989, the Marquette is at risk. Structurally, the building is in sound condition. The steel-reinforced construction has helped to maintain the building’s stability. Signs of deterioration, however, are evident. Broken windows, rusted mullions, and sections of deteriorated mortar joints reveal the vacant state of the building. The grand marquee is unstable and could pose a threat to the passerby. The interior has bore the brunt of neglect. Due to a skylight that has been leaking for several years, a portion of the wood frame ceiling on the first floor has collapsed, resulting in significant water damage to that section of the building. Other areas of water damage are evident on the upper floors where windows have been broken and access doors to the roof have failed to remain watertight. Peeling paint, cracked plaster, rusted ironwork, and non-functioning elevators with an open elevator shaft are further signs that the building is losing its battle with deferred maintenance.

In June 2000, City officials in Cape Girardeau condemned the Marquette and ordered that structural and cosmetic repairs be undertaken. The out-of-state owner of the property responded by addressing the concerns outlined in the City mandate. Despite apparent compliance within the prescribed period, the City has continued its condemnation proceedings. Another condemnation hearing on the property in November 2000 gave the owner 120 to make further repairs or to sell the building to someone who would, or it would proceed with the demolition. Local preservationist have been working frantically to extend the 120-day deadline which ended in mid-March. community support for the Marquette’s preservation appears widespread as evidenced by a January open house that was held at the building in which nearly 600 people attended. Despite community interest, several political leaders fear that interest in the hotel will wane and that the City will be forced to address what they see as an eyesore for the community.

Although figures are not available, it is estimated that it would cost nearly $1 million to demolish the structure. Renovation of the building could cost as much as $7 million, although the number could be substantially lower depending upon the re-use of the building. The building is currently being marketed for $635,000. The owner is supportive of its preservation, as are many private citizens. A group of historic preservation students from Southeast Missouri State University have also advocated for its preservation and have stressed the positive impact a revitalized structure such as the Marquette could have on Cape Girardeau’s economy. Without the cooperation of the city, the community support can not save the hotel, and without a funded plan for the restoration of the Marquette, the City will not cooperate. The threat is evident. Time is running out, and the Marquette needs a miracle.

Listed in 2001.

Update: The hotel has been SAVED! It was the recipient of an Honor Award in 2018.

Leave a Reply