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Almost Yesterday is a glimpse into the rich history of our region. Dr. Frank Nickell takes listeners on a journey to specific moments in time, such as the first radio broadcast on KFVS, the history of Farmington’s Carleton College, and the short-lived safari on a Mississippi River island. A gifted storyteller and local historian, Dr. Nickell’s wit and love for the past are combined with sounds and music that augment his narrative.On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Almost Yesterday received First Place in the "Special Programs" category at the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Missouri.Almost Yesterday airs every Wednesday at 5:42 and 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Almost Yesterday: Cape Girardeau Landmarks Destroyed

Almost Yesterday
Southeast Missouri State University

It seems like Almost Yesterday that two historic landmarks in Cape Girardeau disappeared.

In April of 1909 the city council decided it was time to make improvement to Court House Park through the elimination of two building that had served the city for half a century. The first of these was the old market house which had been a fixture on the lawn of Court House Park since 1852. The second was a city jail which had been constructed in 1856.

The market house was a square brick building which was used by vendors to sell a wide variety of products for the home market, including vegetables, fruit, eggs, milk, and meat. By the turn of the century and the development of modern grocery stores, the market fell into disuse and became a storage house for the city’s surplus and unwanted items. Most notably…junk.

The city jail, commonly referred to as “the Calaboose,” constructed in 1856, had also fallen into disrepair. It too was a square brick building with several individual cells in which there were rings fastened to the walls to chain those arrested and held for trial or punishment.

The city sought to raze the buildings and offered both to a contractor for the sum of $15.00 if he would quickly demolish and remove them from the city property.

Indicating that the city’s interest in historic preservation is not an entirely new development, many people resisted the city’s plans, urging that both the jail and the market house be preserved as historical reminders of early Cape Girardeau.

But the building were demolished, the land cleared, and soon a foundation and statue stood where the old jail once stood. Within a few years a new Carnegie Library graced the hillside of Court House Park where the old market house had, for so long, served the appetites of Cape Girardeau’s early families.

Frank Nickell is a retired history professor at Southeast Missouri State University.
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