How old is it?

May. 15, 2015

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This is an adorable and unusual little commercial building.  It is clear that it's design was targeting traffic from coming up from the Mississippi River port, the wonderful metal cornice turns the corner only on the east side.  Originally, there was an alley on the east side (where the one story builidng is in the photo), with windows facing the alley to the east on all floors.  There is only one window on the west side.

The building seems to have a little sibling, the building to the east (left) is a smaller version of this building. 

So, how old is it?  On oldest Sanborm Map that I have been able to find for Cape Girardeau, this building and the sibling to the left already exist.  The date is June 1884. The street was named "Harmony," and the building address was 5014.  The maps illustrate that by 1893 the street name had changed.  The 1908 map lists both the new and old street numbers.

So, I know both buildings were there when the Sanborn company did thelr first map for Cape. 

Ok, I admit, I get distracted by the search for the history of the building.  This one is hard, I haven't found any old photos yet.  Photos typically aren't taken in the middle of the block.

The building has housed lots of things over the years, several different restaurants and cafes, a homeless shelter, a savings & loan, a couple of different appliance stores, a hair salon, a sewing shop, an adding machine saleman, a clothier, a grocery store and most recently, a really used furniture store.  All sorts of commerce happened in this 28 foot wide storefront over the years. One of the local photographers mentioned it in one of his blog posts:

In 1893, the Sanborm Map has the occupant on the first floor as a barber.  The 1884 map has it listed as vacant.  Could it have just been built and not occupied yet when the Sanborn man measured it?  Mysteries are one reason I love old buildings. 

  • Image: 
    Image Description: 
    View Looking Southwest - 707 is the building on the right. Note the pitched roof and the wonderful metal cornice!