Written by Guest Blogger Alyssa Phares, Cape Girardeau Convention & Visitors Bureau and President of the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission
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.
Located at 805 Broadway in Cape Girardeau, the Broadway Theatre, a National Register of Historic Places property, stands vacant. The Broadway Theatre is significant in that it has contributed to Cape Girardeau’s entertainment and recreational history. The Broadway Theatre is the older of the two remaining historic theatres in Cape Girardeau and is the only surviving one from the silent film and vaudeville eras.
Some would say I am theatre obsessed. But really, it is this theatre that has me wrapped around its finger. I believe strongly in the power of historic preservation and community development. Community theatres provide and still provide a sense of place, a reason to interact socially and in the past they served as a recreational center for members and visitors. The Broadway Theatre was a part of Cape Girardeau’s community fabric from the time it was built in 1921 until it closed its doors for the first time in 1960. During its heyday the Broadway theatre offered a wide variety of entertainments such as style reviews, operettas, concerts, and various community organization activities.
Restoration of the historic Broadway Theatre would be a worthy and fitting project downtown revitalization project in Cape Girardeau. The potential value of a restored Broadway Theatre to Cape Girardeau’s social and cultural scene also cannot be overlooked. As in decades past the theatre could once again become the place to meet friends and be seen out in the community. A vibrant restored theatre brings a bit of big city feel to the smaller community.
Patrons of the theatre could take their business to the Broadway Corridor for dining, shopping and leisurely strolls before and after events. The theatre could complement the recently built River Campus facility at Southeast Missouri State University and become a draw for heritage tourism. Picture a lit-up marquee on a tree-lined Broadway avenue, pulsing with light, advertising the interesting events taking place within. It is for all of these reasons that This Place Matters to Cape Girardeau.