Missouri’s Most Endangered 2004

Dr. George L. Bralley House
Louisiana, Pike County

Jerry J. Presley Center
Salem, Dent County

Casper Weckerle Grocery Buildings
St. Joseph, Buchanan County

Roadside Parks in Missouri

Charles S. Rannells House “Woodside”
Maplewood, St. Louis County

Simmons Stable
Mexico, Audrain County

Miller County Courthouse
Tuscumbia, Miller County

James Clemens, Jr. House
St. Louis City

George Washington Carver School
Fulton, Callaway County

Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church
Glasgow, Howard County

Dr. George L. Bralley House
Louisiana | Pike County

This 10 room Italianate mansion at 402 N. 3rd Street is one of the finest early victorian properties in the City of Louisiana. It is located one block west of the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in a section of the ‘old town’ which contains most of Louisiana’s antebellum mansions. North Main Street and North 3rd Street are being declared a historic district by the City of Louisiana and with the assistance of a grant form the State Historic Preservation Office a nomination for the historic district is being composed for its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Placement in the National Register will make the Bralley Mansion and most other properties in the district eligible for state historic tax credits.

The Bralley Mansion has been unoccupied for approximately 40 years and is in a very dilapidated condition. It was built in 1871 by Dr. George L. Bralley and is remarkable because its original design has never been altered. The mansion contains a magnificent staircase and center hall with equally fine original casework throughout. Although sections of the massive cornice have fallen, they have been retrieved and stored. The structural elements of the mansion appear to be sound and there is no doubt that the property can be restored.

The Louisiana Historic Preservation Association has led a campaign against the owners of dilapidated structures within the city. This campaign has resulted in the city taking the owners of such properties to court and the imposition of very significant fines. Property owners have been given one month to bring their properties up to code or face additional fines.

Many of these unoccupied homes were constructed in the 1850’s and 1860s and can be restored. The City of Louisiana has encourages the owners of these ‘dangerous buildings’ to place them on the market with the assurance that the LHPA will assist in identifying a buyer who will restore them. Should they fail to find buyers, these historic properties will almost certainly be demolished. The LPHA hopes that listing the Bralley House will assist them in finding preservation-minded owners for all of Louisiana’s endangered structures.

Jerry J. Presley Center
Salem | Dent County

The Presley Center is a wonderful collection of rustic stone and wood buildings in a unique valley setting along the Current River. The buildings are excellent examples of 1930’s vernacular architecture. The center is also one of the last remaining examples of the private hunting and fishing clubs that were once prevalent in the area.

Currently owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and used as a lodging and meeting space for educational groups, MDC planned to demolish all but three of the dozen historic buildings on property.

The Jerry J. Presley Center has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been transferred from the Conservation Department to the State Parks system under Department of Natural Resources. Governor Blunt announced in 2007 that it will be our newest state park!

Casper Weckerle Grocery Buildings
St. Joseph | Buchanan County

Capser Weckerle, a sSwiss-German emigrant, had for some years been a partner in the firm of Uhligner & Weckerle before opening his own grocery store in 1879. Weckerle’s store was located at 322-324 South 4th Street with his business on the first floor and the family home upstairs. Records point to the construction of these newer buildings in 1890. Casper Weckerle operated the store until his death in November 1901.

The Italianate style commercial structure and parapet of the flat roof is underscored by pressed metal dentilated molding. The storefronts below also use metal in the cast, fluted Ionic columns that flank the deep reveals host double doors and have been partially obscured by modern alterations to the transom, door, and bulkhead areas. The entry to the second floor apartment is between the two storefronts and has decorated indentations with chamfered corners. On the second story centered above each storefront is a wide round arched tripartite window surrounded by rough textured, radiating brick.

Weckerle in 1890 built a second commercial building immediately north at 318-320 S. 4th Street. The building’s wide, arched tripartite windows surrounded with radiating rough textured brick indicate strong influence from the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The store’s retain their original arch label lintels accented by keystones. Unfortunately the cornice on the front has since been removed. Each store entryway has cast metal supports with rope molding columns.

The interior of both buildings feature largely open floor plans with few internal partitions. Both buildings have suffered greatly from water damage. Permanent roof and structural repairs to the ceiling and floor joists are needed. Both 318-320 and 322-324S. 4th Street are contributing buildings in the South Fourth Street National Register Historic District.

Vacant for over a decade, the structures have suffered from deferred maintenance. Leaking roofs have caused structural damage, most recently resulting in the collapse of the first floor of one of the four units. Total re-roofing and stabilization of walls and floors are immediately needed.

Compounding problems even further, the property until recently was left abandoned when the owner of record passed away and no heirs claimed the property. The title has also been encumbered with various liens and judgments. A buyer stepped forward two years ago and has removed some seventy tons of debris from these properties. Unfortunately it appears that the new owner has run low on the additional funds needed to save these wonderful buildings. The question remains whether or not the property’s many problems can be resolved before it is too late.

Roadside Parks in Missouri

Missouri’s state owned roadside parks, turnouts, and scenic overlooks are threatened and in jeopardy of becoming obsolete due to changing means of transportation, safety concerns, and attitudes about travel. Historically, these facilities enhanced the quality of the travel experience by providing tourists convenient places to stop and rest or view the scenery. They contribute to the history of American automobile travel and examples of them are common along highways such as Route 66 in Missouri, which is valued internationally as a unique resource and driving experience. The advent of multi-lane highways, increased speed limits, and the proliferation of corporate roadside services have threatened this category of roadside facilities. Once an integral part of the state highway system, these entities are increasingly viewed as dangerous and unnecessary. Some state agencies consider their use hazardous to public safety and consider their protection and maintenance a drain on highway budgets. Many of them are being vandalized or cut off from the highways they once facilitated, crating a loss of context and visual integrity, and many are being abandoned or closed. Because roadside parks, turnouts, and scenic overlooks as a category are at the risk of becoming obsolete they deserve protection.

Roadside parks, turnouts, and scenic overlooks are, by definition, located adjacent to a state highway and provide at the minimum an automobile pull-off and may provide places to park, picnic or enjoy the surrounding landscape. Character defining features may include: natural or formal plantings, picnic tables, trash receptacles, signage, and areas to park. Overlooks provide a safe place to enjoy scenery, and are situated to frame narrow or panoramic views. Most roadside parks and turnouts are vernacular in nature, with little if nay emphasis on aesthetics, but overlooks often incorporate a greater attention to design elements such as decorative stone work or rustic timber guard rails.

Threatened roadside parks, turnouts, and scenic overlooks exist all across Missouri. An example is Oak Grove roadside park near Leasburg, Missouri in Crawford County (located on Highway 66, west of Highway H). It was recently closed by Missouri Department of Transportation; its signs and tables have been removed, the circular dive has been blocked and it is overgrown with weeds. There are no plans to reopen the park.

A similar situation exists at the roadside park on the north side of Highway 66 near Albatross in Lawrence County. Road improvements have cut if off from the highway preventing its use and making it appear “stranded” with no relationship to the highway and its original context.

Charles S. Rannells House “Woodside”
Maplewood | St. Louis County

This antebellum farmhouse, which is probably the oldest house in Maplewood, is associated with the Charles Rannells family. The two-story Greek Revival house is designated a County Landmark by the Historic Building Commission of St. Louis County. Purchased by the Forest Park Congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2000, the property has been in litigation since the City of Maplewood refused to rezone the property to allow for the house to be demolished and a new church constructed. Meanwhile, the house is vacant and is suffering from deferred maintenance.

Simmons Stable
Mexico | Audrain County

Considered the oldest and largest public stable in the nation in continuous use as a horse facility, the Simmons Stable helped make Audrain County “the Saddlebred Capital of the World.” This large frame barn, built by Cyrus F. Clark in 1887 and purchased by the Simmons family in 1949, has recently been replaced by a new barn and is no longer in use. Although the barn is in need of stabilization and repair, the barn is a good candidate for adaptive reuse.

Miller County Courthouse
Tuscumbia | Miller County

This two-story Classical Revival courthouse is one of only six county courthouses in the state that has been in continuous use since before the Civil War. Its 1909 renovation included the “temporary” painting of a clock on the newly added cupola that has perpetually stood at 8:00 since. In 2003, Miller County abandoned the historic courthouse and built a new courthouse was built several blocks away, leaving a large vacant building in the middle of Tuscumbia’s historic downtown square.

The James Clemens, Jr. House
St. Louis City

The James Clemens, Jr. House, St. Louis, 1859-60. Constructed in 1859 for James Clemens, Jr., a highly successful businessman and cousin to writer Samuel Clemens, the James Clemens, Jr. House is listed on the National Register and is a St. Louis City Landmark. This imposing Palladian 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 Carondolet, a chapel addition was constructed, and the property became the Convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel. In recent years, the complex has been used as a homeless shelter and the buildings have received little or no maintenance. Although the property changed ownership in 2002, the buildings are still vacant and in need of repair, maintenance and rehabilitation.

George Washington Carver School
Fulton | Callaway County

Constructed in 1937 by the Kansas City architectural firm of Felt, Dunham, & Kreihn, the George Washington Carver School has been the center of Fulton’s African-American community. It is one of the only architect-designed African-American schools in the State of Missouri, and it was dedicated by Dr. George Washington Carver, for whom the building was named. The school closed in 1982 and was used for storage for several years, but in 1989, it was purchased by the George Washington Carver Memorial Foundation with the intent of restoring the building to its prominent place in the lives of Fulton’s African-American community.

Although the school had been used as a black history museum and library and by the Fulton Family Resource Center, the building is now vacant and continues to deteriorate. Despite its importance to the black community of Fulton and Callaway County, the George Washington Carver Memorial Foundation continues to struggle to fund the on-going repair and maintenance of the building to ensure that this important piece of Fulton and Missouri’s black heritage is preserved.

Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church (1865) Glasgow | Howard County

Founded in 1860 by freed slaves Corbin and Ann Moore, Campbell Chapel is the oldest African-American congregation in the town of Glasgow, Missouri, and a notable and highly intact example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture in Missouri. Under the direction of carpenter Corbin Moore, a small group of freed slaves erected the brick church on Commerce Street in 1865, naming it in honor of the 8th consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Jabez P. Campbell.

One hundred thirty-seven years later, Campbell Chapel, A.M.E. Church still stands as one of the most intact mid-nineteenth century African-American churches in Missouri. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The simple, vernacular Greek Revival period building set into the side of the hill features a largely unaltered brick exterior and an interior that retains many of its early furnishing. The threat to Campbell Chapel involves a dwindling, aging church congregation and the fact that funds are insufficient to maintain the historic structure. The building is in immediate need of re-pointing, its soft brick having succumbed to 137 years of freeze and thaw.