Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places 2013
May 21, 2013
Missouri Preservation announced its List of Most Endangered Places for 2013 at a press conference held at the Historic Henry Miller House at 106 Cape Road in Bloomfield, which is included on the 2013 List of Most Endangered Historic Places. The Most Endangered Historic Places Program, one of Missouri Preservation’s most visible programs, brings much needed attention to threatened historic resources throughout the state. The Most Endangered Program annually spotlights historic resources that are imperiled. Each year Missouri Preservation solicits nominations from around the State, evaluates the merits of the submissions, and announces the Most Endangered. Throughout the year, Missouri Preservation provides technical assistance, advocacy, and planning support for the listed properties.
Penny Pitman, Chairperson of the Most Endangered Historic Places Committee, and Bill Hart, Missouri Preservation’s Field Representative, made the announcement. An additional list of Watched Properties was announced. “The Watched Properties include historic sites where there is concern, but no immediate threat to their existence at this time,” Pitman said, “We are happy to recognize properties around the state which are imperiled for one reason or another, including abandonment, proposed development, or lack of available resources.
The first Endangered Historic Places announcement was made in 2000 and was instituted as a media campaign aimed at calling attention to endangered historic resources statewide, serving as a call to action. In 2010 the program was expanded and staff support and a board liaison was assigned to each of the endangered places to assess the immediate needs of the endangered resource and assist the nominators to help ensure the preservation of each of the endangered resources. The announcement of The Most Endangered Historic Places is made at one of the sites chosen to be on the official list, usually during May, which is National Preservation Month.
We at Missouri Preservation would like to thank our hosts, the people of Bloomfield. We’d like to extend a special thanks to Chris Kinder for coordinating our visit there. After the announcement, Drs. Bert and Mary Ann Kellerman and Annie Criddle of the Kellerman Foundation for Historic Preservation hosted a reception in honor of our Most Endangered Places at the Kellermans’ fabulous historic home in Cape Girardeau. Our deepest gratitude to them for their generosity and commitment to historic preservation in Missouri. Read more about the Foundation in the article about the Henry Miller House below.
We are indeed grateful to the preservationists who chose to nominate these historic places to our Most Endangered List. It is through you that we give voice to the cause of saving places that matter.
The 2013 List of Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places (in no particular order) is as follows:
The Henry Miller House, Bloomfield – Stoddard County
The Poage-Arnold House “Three Gables,” Kansas City – Clay County
The Ozark Community Building, Ozark – Christian County
The Phillip Kaes House, Sherman – St. Louis County
Camp Zoe, Round Spring – Shannon County
The James Clemens House, City of Saint Louis
The Frizel-Welling House, Jackson – Cape Girardeau County
Greenwood Cemetery, Hillsdale – St. Louis County
The Book House, Rock Hill – St. Louis County
On the 2013 Watched Properties List:
Film Row District – Kansas City, Jackson County
Wheatley-Provident Hospital – Kansas City, Jackson County
The Frank L. Sommer “Cracker” House – St. Joseph, Buchanan County
The Lyric Theater Building – Newburg, Phelps County
The Diamonds Cafe – Villa Ridge, Franklin County
School Buildings of Missouri – Statewide
Historic Bridges of Missouri – Statewide (Including Route 66, St. Louis County and Riverside, Christian County)
The Kemper Arena – Kansas City, Jackson County
The Russell Hotel – Charleston, Mississippi County
The Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church – Lexington, Lafayette County
Information on each of the endangered resources follows:
The Henry Miller House
Bloomfield – Stoddard County
This house was constructed some time 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 have been working to stabilize the Miller House. It is hoped that Missouri’s Most Endangered List will bring added recognition to this historic place, that the building can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and that it will be able to once again garner economic favor through a broader system of support.
a very happy addendum to this story:
Just after we received this nomination to the Most Endangered, The Kellerman Foundation for Historic Preservation announced that it will be providing a grant in part to nominate the Miller House to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Poage-Arnold House “Three Gables”
Kansas City – Clay County
This house originated as a simple two-room building constructed ca. 1824, and the substantial brick addition was added in about 1860. The building is a center hall Gothic Revival style house, and is a rare example of this architectural style both in this community and statewide. Located outside Liberty Missouri in Clay County, it is actually situated within the city limits of Kansas City and is possibly the oldest structure in the Kansas City area. As part of the country’s bicentennial, Three Gables house was listed as one of Clay County’s seventy-six most significant historic buildings. Since its sale in 2000, the surrounding farmland has been developed for residences, apartments, and commercial enterprises. The owners from 2000 through 2013 had intended to raze the house and sell the land for development. Thus the house has not been maintained for over a decade. These owners recently lost the land through foreclosure, and the property was sold at private auction. The new owners, a real estate conglomerate from California, are investigating demolition. Due to its location in a dangerous curve on Missouri 291 Highway, and to the surrounding residential development that has occurred in the last decade, it is unlikely that the property could now be sold for commercial development. It is hoped this nomination will help the new owners understand the importance of this structure and call for its preservation in future development plans.
The Ozark Community Building
Ozark – Christian County
Constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Ozark Community Building was dedicated in July of 1933. The material used for the exterior walls of the building is native fieldstone, referred to locally as “giraffe stone.” The Community Building became obsolete when the City opened the new Ozark Community Center in 2009. While the building has a sensitive owner in the Christian County Museum and Historical Society, it has now been vacant for a number of years. Several areas of its fieldstone walls are in need of re-pointing, and the roof is compromised and leaking. Lack of interior environmental control has caused moisture and humidity to create an unhealthy atmosphere. A fundraising drive to fix the roof, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning has begun so that the Museum can eventually get an occupancy permit. It is hoped that listing on Missouri’s Most Endangered will develop a public awareness of the challenges to this property and emphasize to former and current residents of Ozark the importance of restoration/renovation of this important historic resource.
The Phillip Kaes House
Sherman – St. Louis County
The land on which the Kaes house sits was part of a Spanish land grant to Samuel Pruitt, who was one of the first English-speaking settlers west of the Mississippi. By 1862, most of Pruitt’s holdings had been divided between the Lewis, Kaehs (Kaes) and Coons families. The house was sited on land belonging to the Kaeses. There is still a private cemetery on the property bearing Kaes family inscriptions. The house is designated a St. Louis County Landmark and is now part of Castlewood State Park. It suffers sorely from lack of maintenance. Acquired by the State Parks Department in 1980, one year later the first proposal to pay for its restoration started through the bureaucratic maze. Finally in 1986 $172,000.00 was allocated by the state legislature for the house, but officials shifted money to other needs at the park. In the ensuing years, time has not been kind to State Parks budgets and the house has continued to fall into disrepair. It is hoped that this nomination will call attention to the need for increased funding for Missouri’s State Parks and historic buildings that have been acquired into the State Parks system.
Round Spring – Shannon County
Camp Zoe is sited on a hill overlooking Sinking Creek, a tributary of the Current River. The 350 acres on which the camp is located abuts the Ozark National Scenic Riverways where Sinking Creek meets the Current. Camp Zoe was opened in 1929 as an all girls summer camp and eventually was made coed. Original buildings dating to 1929 include the Lodge, where activities were held (included a library), the Dining Hall, the “Old Shelter”, a mostly open air shelter where activities were held, the Stables, Cabins I, II & III and several service and out-buildings. The lodge was the most significant structure, sited at the top of the hill overlooking the camp grounds and constructed of native Ozark stone and timbers harvested from the site. Over the years four other cabins were added. Camp Zoe closed as a summer camp after the summer of 1986 due to escalating insurance costs and associated rises in camp tuition, which had begun to cause the number of campers to dwindle in the early 1980s. After a few years of renting the camp for retreats and large camping groups, longtime owners Jack and Lois Peters sold Camp Zoe to a religious organization. That organization made little to no changes to the camp and grounds, using it primarily for summer retreats through the 1990s. In 2004 members of the Grateful Dead tribute band The Schwag purchased the camp. By this time, many of the buildings were beginning to become run down due to deferred maintenance. The Schwag addressed some issues and made simple repairs to the cabins and showering facilities. The Schwag cleared some ground north of the main camp for their annual “Schwagstock” music festivals, but the camp itself largely maintained its original integrity. In early November 2010 the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency raided the camp after the final show at the annual “Spookstock” music festival. Following the raid court documents were filed alleging that the music festivals at Camp Zoe were the site of widespread, rampant use and sales of illegal drugs. Camp Zoe was seized by the federal government. While the historic camp is not in immediate danger of destruction, it faces an uncertain future brought about by the federal seizure. Many of the historic buildings, which have suffered from deferred maintenance and partial repairs are in a fragile state. It is hoped that listing Camp Zoe on Missouri’s list of Most Endangered Places could bring wider attention to a place that could be lost to neglect but has the potential of once again functioning as a camping/lodging or retreat facility offering visitors an escape from the daily barrage of our busy lives.
The James Clemens House
City of Saint Louis
This house, completed 1859-60 was designed by architect, Patrick Walsh and constructed for James Clemens, who was a highly successful businessman and cousin to writer Samuel Clemens. The house is listed on the National Register and is a St. Louis City Landmark. This imposing Palladian-style villa with extensive cast iron ornamentation represents one of the most intact antebellum mansions in the St. Louis area. After the death of the illustrious owner in 1888, the house and furnishings were sold to the Sisters of Carondelet, a chapel addition was constructed, and the property became the Convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The Sisters enlarged the property to include a dormitory and a Georgian Palladian chapel, which was designed by Aloysius Gillick and completed in 1896. Beginning in 1949 the buildings were used by a number of Roman Catholic communities and charities, and in 1987 it was sold to the Berean Missionary Baptist Association and then in 2005 to the Universal Vietnamese Buddhist Association. In these recent years, the complex has been used as a homeless shelter and the buildings have received little or no maintenance. A 1984 inspection report suggested that the cast iron used in the façade had become cracked and brittle, allowing water to be trapped behind. The quoins at the corners of the building were reportedly in bad condition, were missing fragments and cracking at the anchor bolts. A conservative price tag for repairs needed at that time was $100,000.00. Since then the building has transferred hands a number of times, the most recent being to the developer of the proposed “NorthSide Regeneration” project. Representatives of NorthSide Regeneration removed the cast iron façade of the house years ago when it was promised the building would be renovated. Since then, nothing has been done to preserve or stabilize the house or additions, and the roof of the nearby chapel has collapsed. It is hoped that this nomination will encourage NorthSide Regeneration to complete rehabilitation of the Clemens House and to include preservation as a focal point of its future plans in the NorthSide Regeneration area.
The Frizel-Welling House
Jackson – Cape Girardeau County
The Frizel-Welling House was begun in 1818 by Joseph Frizel as a modest Cape Cod style house. That same year Mr. Frizel married Sarah Bollinger, the only child of Frederick Bollinger of Whitewater Missouri, where the now famous Bollinger Mill had been built. They owned the house only until 1820, when it was purchased by a Mr. Von Phul, and yet another owner before being purchased by Charles Welling in 1838. Mr. Welling purchased it as a new home for he and his bride, the former Elizabeth Frizel, daughter of original owners, Joseph and Sarah Frizel. The Wellings substantially enlarged the house, adding a large two story front-gabled Greek Revival structure. A skirmish occurred in Jackson during the Civil War, and a bullet in a wash stand which remains in the house. In addition, a “mini-ball” was found in the side yard. In 1864 the First Presbyterian Church was organized in the parlor of the Frizel-Welling home. The family’s generosity is well-known throughout the town’s history, and for a time the parlor also served as the home for Jackson’s first public library. The descendants of the Frizels and Wellings still hold title to the property. Over the years, generations of the family have brought and left personal belongings in the home. The house’s history is evident today as you walk through the house. Every room appears complete as it did many years ago, with well-aged books filling the bookshelves and remarkable pieces of history at every turn, with pieces of history found simply by opening a drawer or storage chest.. The building has recently been put up for sale and there has already been one major threat to the Frizel-Welling House. A sales contract for the asking price was received by the family by an interested party who had sought to demolish the house for a parking lot. Knowing this, the family rejected the contract. The State of Missouri has been approached about perhaps acquiring the property for a State Historic Site, given the extraordinary collection of books, furniture and other family belongings at the House, as well as its family connection to the nearby Bollinger Mill SHS. The Most Endangered designation would bring further recognition to this site and to the need for timely action to save and preserve the building as well as its amazing collection of artifacts, and may even convince the State to acquire the building as a State Historic Site. (photo by James Baughn)
Hillsdale – St. Louis County
Greenwood Cemetery was established in 1874 as the first commercial African-American cemetery in the St. Louis area. After emancipation and before the establishment of Greenwood, the majority of African-Americans in this area did not have a choice of burial location for their deceased family members – due to Jim Crow laws the potters fields and other city-owned cemeteries were the final resting places not only for indigents, but also for people of color no matter what their circumstances or status. Greenwood, with its rural location, park-like setting and 31.85 acres of beautiful well-kept grounds was a welcome change for the small but growing black middle class. Maintenance at the cemetery seems to have ended in the 1980s, as the cemetery showed a drastic loss in revenue due to decreased burials. In 1993 burials ceased at the cemetery due to deteriorating conditions and eventually vegetation was allowed to grow wild in all of Greenwood’s 31.85 acres, making it an impenetrable wilderness. Due to the many decades of neglect, the situation at Greenwood is grim. Much of the cemetery has been used as a dump site, the roads are impassable, stones have been toppled and buried, and shrubs and trees have now become impenetrable overgrowth. Despite current conditions, this site has potential as a cultural and historical resource. It has enormous potential for education, African-American genealogical research, and could be restored for hiking, biking and other activities.
The Book House
Rock Hill – St. Louis County
The “Book House,” as it is known by the business that has been located there for the past thirty years, is a center hall Gothic Revival Style house, and was likely constructed in the early 1860s. The property switched hands among early French St. Louis settlers and eventually ended up in the hands of noted Mississippi River Captain George C. Keith, who was most likely the owner at the time that this building was constructed. The style that Captain Keith chose for the home he built on Manchester Road became popular in the early 1800s beginning with the works of Maryland architect Alexander Jackson Davis, who published a design book in 1832 entitled Rural Residences. His guide book featured the romantic, picturesque Gothic Revival houses as the ideal style in which to construct a country house. American landscape designer, horticulturist and writer Andrew Jackson Downing promoted the Gothic styled house as perfect for the country, with its wide, often double-gabled front and expansive porch. It may be that, if Captain Keith were the house’s first owner, that the style might have also been derived of the “Steamboat Gothic,” which was used for many of the river boats he encountered, with their wrap-around galleries decorated with ornate wood “gingerbread” trim. Buildings in the Gothic Revival Style are quite rare in Missouri and especially in St. Louis County where this building is located, and this is possibly the oldest Gothic Revival style house in St. Louis County. The owner of the Book House building is entertaining a sale to a developer of the property on which the Book House stands. The developer reportedly wants to build a drive-in self-storage facility. Although neither application for a demolition permit nor plans for the new storage facility have yet been submitted to the City of Rock Hill, the owner has acknowledged that this is his intention and has served the Book House tenants with a notice that their lease will not be renewed and advised them to vacate within ninety days. It is hoped that by calling attention to the House through Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places Program, that the City of Rock Hill might be persuaded to reject the demolition permit and that the owners and developers would consider other real estate development that would preserve this rare and significant example of Gothic Revival architecture in St. Louis County.