Missouri’s Most Endangered 2008

Rock Hill (St. Louis County)

The James Collier Marshall Home, known as Fairfax, occupies one corner at the intersection of Manchester and McNight Roads, the main intersection in the town of Rock Hill. As an historic building, Fairfax is noteworthy as one of the oldest and most historically significant braced-frame buildings extant in the County of Saint Louis. James Collier Marshall and his brothers settled Rock Hill, where they operated a trading post, built log cabins, and farmed. Completed in 1841, Fairfax became a gathering place for area settlers. Virtually unchanged, the building retains most of its original interior finishes and wood trim, including a hand-turned stair railing and newel post. Today the City of Rock Hill owns Fairfax. The house has been moved twice to prevent demolition and now sits approximately 400 feet from its original location. It is presently vacant and used only occasionally for community meetings. With limited public resources, plans for renovating Fairfax fell apart following changes in city leadership and the building is showing adverse effects from deferred maintenance. Located in an area of intense commercial development, these pressures also pose a serious threat to the property. Fairfax was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

DeVille Motor Hotel
(City of St. Louis)

The DeVille Motor Hotel is an exceptional example of a mid-century Modern high-rise in the City of Saint Louis. Its E-shaped footprint and soaring towers blend classic Modernism with elements of West Coast Googie architecture. Architect Charles Colbert was a staunch Modernist, and at the time he created this design he was Dean of the School of Architecture at Columbia University and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Colbert designed the DeVille Motor Hotel to enhance density along Lindell Boulevard. He placed all parking at the rear of the property, shielding it from the street with the building. At the same time, the hotel’s massing blends seamlessly with Lindell Boulevard’s collection of early-twentieth century apartment towers, enhancing the architectural diversity of the streetscape. Demolition of the DeVille Motor Hotel would deplete the fine collection of twentieth century high-rises along Lindell Boulevard and would mean the loss of an exemplary work of a master architect. The building’s owner, the St. Louis Archdiocese of the Catholic Church, plans to demolish the DeVille Motor Hotel to construct a surface parking lot.

Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District
Independence (Jackson County)

Established in 1972, the Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District was personally endorsed by President Harry S. Truman shortly before his death. The Truman family’s relationship with their neighborhood has been consistently highlighted by historians and directly linked to the personal character and success of Harry S. Truman. The south end of the Truman National Historic Landmark District (NHL) has additional importance as the “setting” for a National Historic Site (NHS), which includes two bungalows, owned by members of Bess Truman’s family. The concept of “setting” is especially critical when it comes to the Truman National Historic Site. The Truman home sits on a narrow street in a neighborhood composed of larger Victorian homes and smaller bungalows. Visitors to the Truman Home experience this classic example of a Midwestern middle-class neighborhood. The setting adds value to the NHS and helps tell the story of a man who took his sense of community and neighborhood to the Jackson County Courthouse, to the United States Senate, to the White House, and to international peace summits. Since the establishment of the Truman NHL in 1972 eleven significant homes have been lost. In 1984 the area within the locally-designated Harry S. Truman Landmark District was reduced by two-thirds, allowing for the demolition of eight houses for a parking lot. Three other houses have been lost to neglect and fire. The National Park Service identified the district as threatened in 1984, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the district on its list of 11 Most Endangered Properties in 1993. Following this designation, the City stepped up local preservation efforts, hiring professional preservation staff, revamping local preservation ordinances and creating an innovative redevelopment district that rewarded property owners with tax abatement for rehabbing historic buildings. However, more recently, institutional property owners in the area have been moving out of historic buildings and redirecting financial resources away from the district. In spite of strong city support, the cumulative effect of these incremental changes places at risk the neighborhood that is synonymous with the legacy of President Harry S. Truman.

Janssen Place Entry Gates
Kansas City (Jackson County)

The Janssen Place Entry Gates mark the entrance to a unique street in Kansas City. Kansas City’s only private street, Janssen Place was developed in the 1890s in the heart of the upper class Hyde Park neighborhood. The entry gates mark the north end of the street and the only point of public access. The structure suffers from deferred maintenance and water damage. The stone is delaminating from multiple locations on the gates. If the decay is not arrested soon, the cost to repair the entry gates will escalate to a level that is out of reach for the resident-owners. Preservation of the entry gates is critical because they are an icon for the distinguished Janssen Place neighborhood and also symbolize the historic and modern prosperity of Kansas City’s historic neighborhoods.

African-American Schools of Missouri
Including Lincoln (Vandalia) and Banneker (Parkville)

Missouri’s historic buildings tell the stories of the diverse spectrum of people who have lived in our state for hundreds of years. The variety of resources left by these groups enhances our understanding of Missouri’s history.

African-Americans have played a significant role in the development of Missouri, and they have left numerous resources to tell their part of the story. Many of these resources reflect the era of segregation, when African-Americans studied, shopped, and healed in buildings separate from the white community. Although segregation brought an end to discriminatory practices, the many buildings erected during this period remind us of a less than ideal time in our past. Often vacant or underutilized these buildings need to be preserved so that we can remember the complete story of Missouri’s history.

Schools built to educate Missouri’s African-American children are one particular type of historic building that is endangered across the state. Largely abandoned following the end of segregation, many have not found a new function and now face the threat of demolition due to years of neglect. It is important to save these buildings to remind us how through education we can teach current and future generations about the great cost of segregation, and the universal passion and desire for learning.

Lincoln School of Vandalia
Vandalia (Audrain County)

Lincoln School was built in 1928 to educate a growing population of African-American children of Vandalia. It was one of the largest African-American schools to serve a small, rural town in Missouri. Elementary and high school students were educated in the building’s four classrooms. The school also had an auditorium with seating for 131 people, a raised stage, and floor lights. Abandoned in the 1950’s when segregation ended, the building has been acquired by “the Concerned Citizens to Save Lincoln School.” The Lincoln School is the last historic school building in Vandalia. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The building is endangered by deferred maintenance, as the owners need funding to complete needed repairs.

The Banneker School
Parkville (Platte County)

The Banneker School, built in 1885, was the first African-American school constructed in Platte County. Students came from as far away as twenty miles to attend the one-room school house. It closed around 1905 when a two-room school was built nearby. The school fell into private hands and was converted into a home. In the 1980s, Mrs. Lucille Douglass purchased the property to save it from demolition and deeded it to the Platte County Historical and Genealogical Society. Money raised by this group funded some initial restoration work that returned the building to its original configuration. No work has occurred since the 1990s, and the building now faces threats from vandalism and deferred maintenance.

Wheatley-Provident Hospital
Kansas City (Jackson County)

Wheatley-Provident Hospital is the sole surviving hospital building in Kansas City that was established for and run by the African-American community during the period of 1902 to 1972. Dr. J. Edward Perry founded the facility as a hospital and training school for nurses in 1902. The limestone building has two wings. The original wing was built in 1902 as the St. Joseph’s Parochial School. The second wing, added in 1925, was designed by the well-known Kansas City architecture firm of Hoit, Price, and Barnes. One of the last historic buildings in this part of Kansas City, Wheatly-Provident Hospital retains a strong historical association with the 18th and Vine neighborhood just a few blocks to the east, which was the heart of Kansas City’s African-American community during the years of segregation. The building is vacant. It is threatened by neglect and is currently listed as a dangerous building by the City of Kansas City, Missouri. Wheatley-Provident Hospital is listed in the Kansas City Register of Historic Places.

The MKT Railroad Bridge (1932)
Boonville (Cooper & Howard Counties)

This structure constitutes the only Missouri river crossing for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas or MKT railroad. It has a unique vertical lift span designed to allow easy passage of river traffic.

The lift span itself is 408 feet long, electrically operated, and weighs more than 1,200 tons. This bridge merged railroad and river commerce on the Missouri River. It is in excellent structural condition and the quality of its steel contributes to the threat to its existence. The direct threat to the bridge stems from interpretations of the 1987 Rails to Trails agreement that developed the 225-mile long KT State Park along the Missouri River. The bridge was included as part of the interim trail use agreement. Local business and civic leaders had hoped to renovate the MKT bridge and incorporate it into the Katy Trail. However, in October 2004, the Union Pacific Railroad, headquartered outside our state, initiated plans to demolish the bridge and to recycle its steel for new bridge downriver (Osage City, Missouri). Governor Blunt agreed with the Union Pacific’s plans and notified the city of Boonville that he had given up our rights to the bridge for KT trail purposes. Under the guidance of its new director, Doyle Childers, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources reversed its position and agreed to let the Union Pacific cannablize the bridge. Mr. Childers believes Missouri cannot afford liability for our State’s heritage. Citizens in Boonville have given a strong and well-organized public outcry. Demolition was temporarily on hold while State Attorney General Jay Nixon mounted a court challenge to prevent the removal of this unique property.

A court ruling in April 2006 found in favor of the Union Pacific and the State will permit the destruction of this bridge. That elected and appointed government officials reject stewardship for Missouri’s rich historic resources constitutes not only an identifiable threat, but a regrettable one.

Update 2008: The bridge in now in imminent danger, since it has exhausted all legal efforts through the court system. Union Pacific Railroad is seeking permits to remove the bridge. Bridge supporters are working to ensure that the railroad complies with the federal processes to document and mitigate


Courthouses of Missouri: Including the Clark & Gasconade County Courthouses

ALERT: The Clark County Courthouse is in eminent danger of being demolished. The Clark County Courthouse Committee voted in favor of demolishing the courthouse on March 10, 2009.

Historic preservation continues to be threatened by sections of the Missouri State Legislature. In 2005, the Senate, but not the House, passed a bill to divert monies from preservation to fund sports facilities, most of which would be in urban areas. This Bill would have eliminated the funding for the Historic Preservation Revolving Fund, one of whose programs was scheduled to support rehabilitation of county court houses and city halls. The Revolving Fund offers the only potential public financing for the restoration of these publicly owned historic resources. Some legislators continue to see funding for maintenance and help to rural and urban county court houses as nonessential.

The variety of threats to Missouri’s courthouses can be seen in examples found in Clark County in Kahoka and in Gasconade County in Hermann. The Clark County Courthouse is threatened by the lack of funding and no maintenance budget for the courthouses which was constructed in the 1870’s. The roof structure, its cupola, windows and soffits have severe damage and are in need of immediate repair. The Gasconade Courthouse in Hermann was built in 1896 and is thought to be the only courthouse in American built with private funds. Rather than repair and adapt this courthouse, some Gasconade commissioners and supporters have proposed abandoning it and transferring the county seat to antoher town. Working to maintain the courthouse in Hermann, others are soliciting to obtain estimates and proposals to address maintenance, parking and accessibility issues. Other Missouri courthouses have retrofitted their courthouses to make them accessible rather than discard their historic building. Last year, Missouri Preservation met with County Commissioners and opponents of the proposed move to discuss adapting this historic structure to modern uses and demands. In 2006, Hermann was awarded the DREAM initiative and made the county courthouse part of this proposal. Nevertheless, talk of abandoning the courthouse and moving the county seat continues.

2008 Update: Although some progress has been made, Missouri’s historic county courthouses remain endangered. This past year Missouri’s Historic Preservation Revolving Fund issued 12 grants to help fund brick-and-mortar rehabilitation projects. This was a significant step forward for these properties. However, the amount of available funding is limited as is the ability of staff from the State Historic Preservation Office to provide technical assistance. As a result, numerous county courthouses across the state have not received the support they need to ensure their long-term preservation.

Unfortunately the Clark County Courthouse has been demolished.

Mullanphy Emigrant Home (1867)
City of St. Louis

Deferred maintenance or deserting a building created an accident waiting to happen. The Northside of St. Louis was hit with severe weather in April 2006 and strong winds caused considerable damage to two landmarks the Mullanphy Emigrant House and the Nord Turnverein, which was subsequently destroyed by fire in July 2006.

The disintegration of the south wall at the Mullanphy Emigrant Home left joists and beams exposed, sagging, and potentially triggering the collapse of the roof. Designed by two prominent Midwest architects and used originally as a dormitory for immigrants and then a school, this important structure was further harmed by a storm in March 2007 that triggered the collapse of part of the north elevation and part of the east elevation from the foundation to the roofline. The damage to the Mullanphy Emigrant Home is major but not irreparable. The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has done admirable work reversing a demolition order, purchasing the building, co-ordinating help and stabilization work on the building, and gathering monies for its preservation through such activities as a fundraiser and a concert.

2008 Update: The Mullanphy Emigrant Home has received generous financial and in-kind contributions that made headway toward stabilization and preservation of the building. Despite visible progress, substantial funds are needed to cover expenses related to rebuilding walls, repairing the roof, and securing window openings. Missouri Preservation strongly supports Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s work and will continue to aid their conservation efforts for this building.

2008 Watched Properties List

African American Schools of Missouri: including George Washington Carver School
Fulton (Callaway County)

Designed by the Kansas City firm of Felt, Dunham, and Kreihn, the George Washington Carver School has been a center of Fulton’s African-American community. It is one of the few architect-designed American-American schools in our state and was dedicated by George Washington Carver, for whom the building was named. The school closed in 1982, was used for storage for several years, and then purchased in 1989 by a local foundation with the intent of restoring the structure to its prominent place in lies Fulton’s African-American community. To this end the building has been used as a black history museum, library and family resource center. 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 this building.

2008 Update: Missouri Preservation has helped assess the building’s structure and will continue to work with local advocates to develop a fundraising and preservation plan which includes strategies for future utilization of this important piece of Missouri’s black heritage. They will also continue to work with the owners of the school to develop a successful preservation plan.

Ralls County Sheriff’s Office (1868)
New London (Ralls County)

The Ralls County Sheriff’s office is a two-story limestone building located across the street from the 1859 Ralls County Courthouse. Both the Courthouse and Sheriff’s Office are on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to being one of the oldest jails in Missouri, this is one of our state’s few remaining examples of a nineteenth-century jail that combined the housing of both the prisoners and the jailer’s family. There is significant water damage to the stonework on the south east corner of the structure and to a wooden lintel supporting the stonework above it. In turn, these problems have begun to affect the interior floors and walls.

2008 Update: Missouri Preservation will continue to advise the Ralls County Commissioners and County Historical Society on the preservation of the jails stone work.

City Hall, Fire House & Jail
Martinsburg (Audrain County)

Audrain Martinsburg b 041510 Jail

This multi-purpose building housed a city council office, meeting room, courtroom, jail and fire house for over fifty years. Today, the city’s tractor, mower and grader are stored there. The city of Martinsburg wants to preserve the structure but needs technical assistance for rehabilitation and suggestions about future uses and planning.

2008 Update: Missouri Preservation will continue to work with supporters to develop preservation plan for the property.

Union Pacific Train Depot & Stairs Poplar Bluff (Butler County)

This double-winged staircase unites two vital levels of Poplar Bluff’s commerce: the two-story brick Union Pacific Train Depot at the bottom of the hill and Main Street at the top. Both the depot and stairs are in fair to poor condition following their abandonment by the Union Pacific Railroad in 2000. A local group has secured a MoDOT matching funds grant to repair the depot’s roof.

Update 2008: Missouri Preservation will continue to offer technical assistance on the conservation of the depot’s interior and the staircase, and will assist the local supporters in the development of their preservation plans for adaptive reuse of this property.

Andrew Baker House
Desloge (St. Francois County)

One of the earliest and largest log houses in this part of Missouri, the Baker house is two stories and has stone fireplaces. Andrew Baker was the area’s first merchant, a slave-owner, and wealthy. The property has not been in use for sometime, has a leaking roof and has suffered serious neglect.

Update 2008: Missouri Preservation will continue to encourage owners to develop a preservation plan for this historic property.

18th and Vine Historic District (1887-1926)
Kansas City (Jackson County)

One of the most important African-American commercial and cultural centers in the Mid-west, the 18th and Vine Historic District has undergone quality redevelopment over the past ten years. Utilizing federal and private monies, the Jazz District Redevelopment Commission (JDRC) has conducted several praiseworthy projects in this neighborhood, including the construction of commercial and multi-family housing. To date, however, JDRC has not completed measures to protect a number of historic buildings as the organization had agreed to when it accepted federal funds. Missouri Preservation has offered to assist the JDRC to ensure that these properties, essential to the perpetuation of this historic district, are stabilized and monitored properly until ready for reuse.

2008 Update: JDRC is set to start rehabilitation this summer on the last six single-family dwellings in the neighborhood and the Rochester Hotel. These buildings will provide much needed senior housing and will be marketed to members of the jazz community.

The Rotunda (1864)
Hermann (Gasconade County)

This red-brick octagon is on the National Register of Historic Places and was constructed as part of a fairground by the Gasconade County Agricultural Association to provide a location for horticultural exhibits and wine-judging events. The building, with its rare shape, demonstrates the importance of viniculture to the economic growth and identity of Hermann as a distinctly German community. It is threatened by years of deferred maintenance.

2008 Update: The Brush and Palette Club, a local group, have worked enthusiastically over the past year raising funds and seeking authorization from the City of Hermann to oversee the restoration process and receive a lease for this structure.

Linn County Jail, (1871)
Linneus (Linn County)

This building currently houses the Linn County Historical Museum. The local museum association would like to purchase the building from the County this year, but they need technical help with fund development, rehabilitation and restoration plans in order to retain original features. Much of the structure of the jail is in good condition; however, major repairs to the roof, porch and trim need to be done.

Update 2008: Missouri Preservation will continue to encourage supporters to develop a successful preservation plan.