Historic Preservation

The key point for using the Four Points from the Main Street Approach is to revitalize the downtown through community engagement and understanding the economy of the downtown district.  To fulfill this key point, the Old Town Cape works to complete historic preservation projects within the district, which seeks to protect, preserve, and conserve buildings, landscapes, and artifacts of historical significance.

Ivers Square – United States Colored Troop Statue

The Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) has awarded a grant of $10,000.00 to Old Town Cape, Inc. in support of the Ivers Square United States Colored Troop Statue. The MHC is the only statewide agency in Missouri devoted exclusively to humanities education for citizens of all ages. It has served as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1971.

Efforts to install a statue of a United States Colored Troops soldier in Ivers Square are completed due in large part to the diligence and hard work of community historian, Denise Lincoln. Lincoln’s focus has been to recover the region’s African-American Civil War history. In addition to numerous lectures, Lincoln proposed and lobbied for a highly detailed figurative statue to be installed in honor of and symbolic of the contributions of the U.S. Colored Troop soldiers who enlisted in Cape Girardeau, 1863 – 1864.

The statue, created by award-winning sculptor and artist Roy W. Butler, along with associated interpretive signage, is meant to complement the renovations and physical improvements to the courthouse grounds, recently renamed Ivers Square, honoring the memory of Pvt. James Ivers, 56th U.S. Colored Infantry, and his wife Harriet.

Dr. Steven Hoffman oversaw the project as the project director. Dr. Hoffman, professor of history in the Department of History and Anthropology at Southeast Missouri State University and board member of Old Town Cape, Inc., advised and assisted in developing interpretive panels that interpret four major topics: the history of James and Harriet Ivers, the compelling story of the other enslaved individuals who enlisted at the courthouse, the role of Missouri’s U.S. Colored Troops in the war effort, and the history of the existing Union and Confederate memorials on the site thereby providing a larger context for those memorials. Bonnie Kipper, representative of the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission, also assisted with the project.

The project acknowledged and celebrated the historic contribution of Cape Girardeau’s African-American community and added accurate balance to the Civil War story and memorials placed at our one of our city’s most historic sites by previous generations.

Read more from community historian, Denise Lincoln, in the link below.

Denise Lincoln Proposal

Ivers Square – Partners in Preservation

Partners in Preservation was a grant process that Old Town Cape, Inc. was invited to participate in the winter of 2017. Partners in Preservation is a collaboration between American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Each year they focus on a different subject for the grant process and this past year they chose Main Streets, and we were one of 25 communities chosen to participate in the process.

After 36 days of vying for the community’s votes, Old Town Cape, Inc. won a grant for $127,500 to revitalize Ivers Square. Working with local engineer, Kelly Green of KLG Engineering as project manager, Old Town Cape, Inc. assembled a great team including architect Phillip Smith and the construction crew from Kiefner Bros., Inc. to start the work. Assistant Director, Sarah LaVenture, from Old Town Cape, Inc., made sure the work was completed in a smooth and seamless process.

In the spring of 2018, we were able to get the first piece of the puzzle completed! The fountain at Ivers Square was cleaned, soda blasted, and repainted. Watching the layers of paint and debris come off of the beautiful structure was like watching years of life being shaved off. Now the fountain looks nearly brand new.

At the end of the summer season, there was more work done in the square. Overnight, the lattice roof of the gazebo was removed and the construction of the new roof began.

In 2019, we saw the entire project evolve. The spring was a flurry of activity as the custom-designed fascia was applied to the gazebo, custom stone benches were placed around the fountain, and new and beautiful landscaping was added.

Ivers Square is a community park and historical site located in Downtown Cape on the grounds of the Common Pleas Courthouse. It has been home to weddings, concerts, Hollywood movies, and more, including Old Town Cape’s Tunes at Twilight summer concert series.

Take a look below at some before and after pictures of this incredible Historic Preservation project.


Originally, National Preservation week began in May 1973 and was extended to the whole month of May in 2005. The National Preservation Month was designed to promote heritage and historic places while demonstrating the benefits of historic preservation through events by the organization. Old Town Cape, Inc. created an educational event through a partnership with students from Southeast Missouri State University which consists of a walking tour of seven different historic buildings in the riverfront district with a pamphlet that included careers linked to the buildings. In addition, the event included a scavenger hunt, which focused on the significant architectural features of the built environment, to complete while walking from one building to another. The target audience for this event were middle school students from the local school district.

Old Town Cape also participates in Historic Preservation Month by sharing articles, blogs, trivia, and more through social media to educate the public on the importance of preserving history within the downtown and beyond. Below are a few activities created by staff as well as local university students that have been used to promote and encourage historic preservation in Downtown Cape.

Downtown Architecture Scavenger Hunt

Virtual Walking Tour

To learn more about Historic Preservation Month, please visit: https://savingplaces.org/stories/history-of-preservation-month#.XrGBDW5FzD4.

In 2020, Old Town Cape received the PreserveMO Award by the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation for the Ivers Square Revitalization Project. View the video below at 17:38 as Liz receives the award!

Thank you to our 2020 Historic Preservation Month Sponsors!