Written by Southeast Missouri State University Student Guest Blogger Laura Williams
This blog series is presented through a partnership between the Historic Preservation Commission of Cape Girardeau, the Historic Preservation Program at Southeast Missouri State University, and Old Town Cape.
Many of Cape Girardeau’s historic commercial buildings have housed various businesses. This coming and going of businesses is a natural part of a community’s evolution, adding layers to our cultural story. The building at 1127 Broadway is one such example. Currently, the building is home to the sports bar D’Ladiums, but it has also been a drug store, a grill, and a soda fountain.
The building was originally constructed in 1929, and opened in 1930 as Dormeyer Pharmacy. In September of 1929, the Southeast Missourian reported that, “Plans are being made for construction of a large, modern Spanish-type drug store building on Broadway, just east of Henderson Avenue; Dormeyer Pharmacies is having one-story structure built of light-colored brick; in addition to prescription department, building will contain booths for seating 120 people and complete luncheon service will be offered.” To the right of the front entrance is a distinctive arched doorway. Now closed, this previously led down a set of stairs to the basement of the building. Originally, a soda fountain called “The Cellar” operated there, later being renamed “The Dungeon” and “The Marine Room.” According to the 1942 Cape Girardeau City Directory, Dormeyer Pharmacy, Crescent Cleaners, and USPO Station No 3 were all located at 1127 Broadway. In 1945, the directory lists Matthews Drug Store at that address, but from 1949-1955 it lists Evans Pharmacy. From 1956-1958 the address description was a simple and self- explanatory, “Vacant”.
The building’s history took a sharp turn, when In October of 1959, the now legendary Jerry “Big Dog” Priest opened a pool hall called Paladium. Located directly across from the University’s Houck Field House, Paladium quickly became a pre/post game tradition for SEMO students. Priest was an excellent pool player and became quite the local legend. Priest started serving hot dogs, chili, and beer on tap. Many people have fond memories of “Big Dog” and the bar. Competitive pool was, and remains, a mainstay activity. In 2004, the Dirnberger Investment Company bought the building and renamed the bar and pool hall D’Ladium’s but kept the atmosphere that everyone had come to love.
Since 1974 the memorable and charismatic Jerry Beaver (known as Beaver or the Captain) has managed Pladium/D’Ladium’s. He also has a starring role in most patrons’ memories. You can usually find him directing the bar from his vintage barbershop chair. A cartoon Beaver with an outstretched beer is featured prominently on the exterior sign. He has literally become a living mascot. The phrase, “The Pard Welcomes You” is featured on the sign and on memorabilia for sale inside. Jerry explained that this is a saying he came up with to greet his best friends. He said that a “Pard” is really just a word he coined for buddy or good friend. Although the story of D’ladiums is a legend in itself, without the historic building it calls home, many fond memories would not have happened.