The Franz Schmidt Cabin

Cape Girardeau
Cape Girardeau County

The current appearance of what was the Franz Schmidt Cabin (818 N. Fountain) – a frame Bungalow design typical of the 1930s – belies its original form. The settlement of this property occurred prior to 1832, although it is unsure whether a building existed here when Franz Schmidt acquired it in 1860. During some initial rehabilitation work in 2013, the first logs became visible from beneath the exterior clapboard siding, and it was discovered that the southern half of the house was indeed a log “cabin” of modified lap and half-notch construction.  The cabin structure is shown in early lithograph maps of Cape Girardeau and military maps from the Civil War. The cabin is in close proximity to the location of the Union Army’s Fort A and was very near to the horse corral, on land now bisected by what is now Cape Girardeau’s Fountain Street. Verbal historical accounts from the Schmidt family indicate that Franz Schmidt was its builder. The original core of the present house represents one of the oldest extant structures in the historic City of Cape Girardeau, as well as being a rare remaining structure in the Fort A District, and a rare example of German Vernacular construction. The City of Cape Girardeau has condemned the house and considers it “impractical” for renovation. A support group consisting of local preservationists has been working with the house’s owner to stabilize the building, and has also done preliminary work toward listing it on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, these supporters have established a social networking site and have begun the process of establishing a tax-exempt corporation in order to raise funds for its restoration. It is hoped that listing on Missouri’s Most Endangered will help persuade the City of Cape Girardeau to give the preservationists more time in which to raise these funds and establish a new use for this historic place.

Listed in 2014.

Update: Even after slightly more time was granted to stay the demolition order, the City Staff made the decision on August 8, and the Franz Schmidt Cabin was demolished in October of 2014. The house at 818 N Fountain was supposedly going to be relocated. See the SEMISSOURIAN for more images and the CAPE GIRARDEAU 2015 MOST ENDANGERED LIST.

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