Haarig Commercial Historic District
The Haarig Commercial Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Haarig Commercial Historic District is located along the 600 block of Good Hope Street and the 300 block of South Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau, Missouri (1990 population 34,438). The Haarig Commercial Historic District is located approximately six blocks southwest of the downtown commercial center along the Mississippi River, and is composed of fourteen buildings constructed between ca.1875 and 1935. Known as "Haarig," this area developed as a commercial area in the late-19th and early-20th centuries and served the nearby predominately German residential neighborhood. The buildings are representative of the property type of Commercial Buildings ca.1850 to 1950. These buildings are primarily one- to three-stories in height, of brick construction, and were built to house commercial businesses and offices. The buildings illustrate common commercial building designs and forms of the period including Italianate, Colonial Revival, Brick Front, and Tudor Revival. Many of the storefronts have replacement materials, but the buildings retain much of their upper facade detailing and decoration. These buildings continue to be used for commercial purposes and thirteen of the fourteen buildings are considered contributing to the character of the Haarig Commercial Historic District.
The Haarig Commercial Historic District developed in the late-19th and early-20th centuries to serve Cape Girardeau's growing population, a large percentage of which were of German descent. A large influx of German immigrants came to the city in the late 1840s and early 1850s with another peak in the years following the Civil War. A concentration of German immigrants resided in the areas south of Good Hope Street, and soon commercial activity began to appear along this main corridor.
The oldest buildings in the Haarig Commercial Historic District are located on the south side of Good Hope Street where the first commercial buildings in the area were constructed in the late-19th century. These buildings include the two-and-one-half story brick building at 621-623 Good Hope Street, which was completed ca.1875. This building has a gable standing seam metal roof, and was designed with segmental arched windows and a corbelled brick cornice. In the early-20th century this building housed the Good Hope Meat Market. Around 1880, the three-story brick building and the two-story brick building at 629-631 and 633 Good Hope Street were built. These buildings were designed with Italianate detailing and share an original cast iron column on the storefront. The building at 633 Good Hope Street originally housed H.A. Nussbaum's general merchandise and grocery business, while at 629-631 Good Hope Street was the Farmers' Hotel, Farmers' Feed Stable, and Farmers' Home Bar in the early-20th century. The two-story brick building at 635 Good Hope Street was also constructed ca.1880. This building originally housed the Haas Brothers Saloon, and retains an original cast iron column and original double doors at its corner chamfered entrance.
Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of the period reveal that by 1908, the south side of Good Hope was lined with two- and three-story commercial buildings, and others were beginning to appear on the north side of the street replacing residences and frame commercial buildings. Buildings continued to be constructed in the Italianate style such as the two-story brick building completed ca.1900 at 628-630 Good Hope Street. This building retains original one-over-one wood sash windows set within segmental arches and a corbelled brick cornice. The Italianate style also influenced the two-story brick building at 624-626 Good Hope Street, constructed ca.1905, and the ca.1900 two-story brick building at 632 Good Hope Street. These buildings have upper facade windows with stone sills and header course segmental arches and corbelled brick cornices with metal grilles. The 632 address originally housed the Farmers' & Merchants' Bank, and in addition was home to photographer G.A. Kassel, and dentists Shelton and Popp.
Other buildings along this block were completed from ca.1910 to ca.1925 and reflect Colonial Revival influences as well as vernacular "Brick Front" forms. The two-story brick building at 620 Good Hope Street was constructed in 1916 as the Meyer and Schwab Hardware store, which is still in operation today. The building reflects the Colonial Revival style and displays original glazed white brick detailing on the upper facade and a brick and terra cotta cornice with dentils and acanthus leaf brackets. "Brick Front" designed buildings are those that were constructed from ca.1910 to ca.1930 with traditional storefronts and upper facades displaying rectangular windows, corbelled brick cornices, and decorative brick panels. At 625-627 Good Hope Street is a two-story brick building constructed ca.1925. This building was designed with rectangular panels of soldier and sailor brick coursing with concrete corner blocks.
As the population of Cape Girardeau continued to increase in the 1920s and 1930s, the commercial district that had developed along Good Hope Street expanded along adjacent S. Sprigg Street. These buildings were primarily one-story in height reflecting the popular Brick Front form or Tudor Revival style. Between ca.1925 and ca.1935 three one-story commercial buildings were completed on the east side of S. Sprigg Street. The earliest of these is the Tudor Revival influenced building at 314-318 S. Sprigg Street. The building retains two original storefronts with recessed entrances, and the upper facade displays gable wall dormers with stucco and half-timbering.
The one-story brick building located at 320-322 S. Sprigg Street was constructed ca.1930 and retains original storefronts with concrete and stucco bulkheads, copper and glass display windows, and recessed entrances. Rectangular brick panels with alternating soldier and sailor brick courses are above each storefront. Nearby, a one-story brick building was constructed ca.1935 at 326 S. Sprigg Street. This building has an upper facade of wire brick, and displays diamond shaped brick panels with soldier and sailor brick courses.
Since the 1930s, there has been no new building construction within the Haarig Commercial Historic District. The Haarig area remained an active business district during the 1940s and 1950s, and began to experience decline in the 1960s due to the rise of suburban residential districts and accompanying commercial centers. Several storefronts on Good Hope Street were remodeled in the 1960s and 1970s with replacement brick or permastone bulkheads, and aluminum and glass display windows in an attempt to "modernize" their appearance. Alterations to upper facades have been minimal and are largely confined to some replacement of original windows. The only non-contributing building in the Haarig Commercial Historic District is the small frame building at 312 S. Sprigg Street. Built at the rear of 635 Good Hope Street ca.1910, this building has been extensively altered and no longer retains integrity of its original design.
In recent decades, a number of businesses have moved out of the Haarig area and many buildings along Good Hope Street have been razed. These include the Orpheum Theatre which was built at 615 Good Hope Street in 1917 and the Farmers and Merchants Bank building at 701 Good Hope Street. Other buildings remain vacant. In the mid-1990s, Haarig merchants and citizens organized the Haarig Area Development Association to encourage commercial development and revitalization in the area. The Haarig Commercial Historic District includes the remaining block of historic commercial buildings in the Haarig area and represents the traditional economic activity and development of the community.
The Haarig Commercial Historic District is included on the National Register for its historical and architectural significance. The fourteen buildings that comprise the Haarig Commercial Historic District are representative of the property type of Commercial Buildings and meet the requirements set forth within the historic context of 19th and Early 20th Century Commercial Buildings in Cape Girardeau, ca.1850-1950. The Haarig Commercial Historic District is significant for Commerce and Ethnic Heritage. The Haarig Commercial Historic District represents Cape Girardeau's commercial growth and development in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The Haarig Commercial Historic District also strongly reflects Cape Girardeau's German heritage as a commercial area in a primarily German neighborhood. Buildings in the Haarig Commercial Historic District housed a number of German-owned and operated businesses, such as Meyer's Hardware, the Nussbaum and Stehr Mercantile Company, and Unnerstall's Drug Store. Largely family-owned and operated, these businesses often remained in operation for generations and became prominent landmarks in the community. The Haarig area is the only commercial area in Cape Girardeau which is strongly identified with the city's German heritage.
The Haarig Commercial Historic District is also significant as one of the few remaining groups of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in Cape Girardeau that retain much of their original design and detailing. Constructed from ca.1875 to ca.1935, the buildings are primarily one- and two-story brick buildings displaying the influences of the Italianate, Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival styles. The loss and alteration of pre-1950 commercial buildings has been extensive in Cape Girardeau and only a few concentrations of buildings retain their sense of time and place. Although many of the Haarig area storefronts have been altered, the buildings retain a high degree of integrity on their upper facade detailing, and as a group they evoke a strong sense of a turn-of-the-century neighborhood commercial center.
Historical Background and Significance
The area known as Haarig located along Good Hope and S. Sprigg Streets developed as a local commercial area in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Supplementing rather than replacing the downtown commercial district, Haarig evolved to accommodate Cape Girardeau's growing population. As the city grew it expanded westward from the downtown area and its eastern Mississippi River border. The coming of the railroad to Cape Girardeau in the late-19th century resulted in a major period of growth and expansion. From 1880 to 1910, the population doubled to almost 8,500 residents. Residential growth occurred in the west and southern sections of the city. The downtown area remained the primary commercial district, located near both water and rail transportation, which provided important trade and industry. But as the city grew, a second neighborhood-oriented commercial area developed closer to the expanding residential community. Initial businesses such as saloons and general merchandise stores provided residents with easy access to basic goods and social activities without having to travel to the downtown district. The number and variety of merchants quickly expanded and soon included butchers, bakers, and barbers, as well as doctors and druggists. Before long the list also included a bank, hotel, and by 1917, a movie theater.
The Haarig Commercial Historic District became known as the Haarig area, a name that reflects the primarily German population that it served. A large influx of German immigrants came to Cape Girardeau in the late 1840s and early 1850s with another peak in the years following the Civil War. Studies have shown that a large percentage of German immigrants residing in Cape Girardeau County originated from the same towns and villages in Germany, notably Hannover and Brunswick. This commonality made for a close-knit German community and German residential neighborhoods. By the 1880s, a strong German presence could be found throughout the city, with a high concentration in the vicinity of Good Hope Street.
Commercial buildings first began to appear in the Haarig district in the 1880s. By 1884, a row of two-story brick commercial buildings lined the south side of Good Hope Street housing two dry good stores, a drug store, a barber, and other businesses. The Haas Saloon was a well-known establishment in the prominent corner building situated at 635-637 Good Hope Street, and H.A. Nussbaum's General Merchandise store was located at 633 Good Hope Street in the 1890s. Both of these are two-story brick buildings constructed ca.1880 with Italianate influences. Details of the buildings include segmental arched window openings and storefronts with cast iron columns. The three-story brick building at 625-627 Good Hope was also built ca.1880 with Italianate influences and housed the Hirsch and Nenniger Meat Market.
Also at the intersection of Good Hope and Sprigg Streets was the Hirsch Brothers Mercantile and Provision Company. Established in 1876 by George Hirsch, the firm was inherited by his sons and incorporated in 1897. The business occupied a large brick Italianate style building at the northwest corner of Good Hope and Sprigg Streets. The building housed the Hirsch mercantile business on the main floor and various professional offices occupied the upper story. Although still extant, this building has been extensively altered and is not included in the Haarig Commercial Historic District boundary.
This commercial trend continued into the early-20th century and by 1908, a similar row of commercial buildings had been erected on the north side of Good Hope Street, replacing dwellings and a few one-story commercial buildings. Construction still largely reflected the Italianate style, which was utilized in the two-story brick buildings at 628-630 and 632 Good Hope Street. These buildings were erected ca.1900 and display segmental arched window openings and corbelled brick cornices. In the first decade of the 20th century, the 630 address was home to Wasem's Drug Store and the Farmers' and Merchants' Bank, along with photographer G.A. Kassel and dentists Shelton and Popp, who occupied the 632 location. In later decades the Farmers' and Merchants' Bank constructed its own building at 701 Good Hope Street. This building was recently razed to make way for a new Salvation Army headquarters.
Other early businesses in the Haarig Commercial Historic District included a butcher, cobbler, two saloons, a bakery, a bank, a hardware store, a blacksmith, and two hotels. The Green Tree Hotel, later renamed the Good Hope Hotel, was located at 602 Good Hope, and at 629 was the Fanners' Hotel. Also at this address was the Farmers' Feed Stable and the Farmers' Home Bar. The area also contained three doctors, a haberdasher, a wagon maker, and at least three restaurants.
Throughout its long history, the Haarig district maintained a strong German character with a majority of the businesses owned and operated by German merchants and professionals. In 1906, merchants included photographer G.A. Kassel, at 632 Good Hope Street, the Nussbaum and Stehr Mercantile Company at 613 Good Hope Street, Fred Dietiker, grocer and restaurateur located at 701 Good Hope Street, and the Hirsch and Nenninger Meat Market at 625 Good Hope Street. Charles Kaess owned and operated the Good Hope Bakery at 624 Good Hope Street, and the Good Hope Drug Store was established at 627 Good Hope Street in 1906 by James A. Kinder and Ben Miller. In 1914, the local newspaper praised the business as "one of the best known pharmacies in Southeast Missouri, where the best of everything is kept in stock and where prescriptions are given the careful attention of Mr. Kinder himself." In addition to pharmaceuticals, the Good Hope Drug Store also contained "a refreshment department, where is served the best of ice cream, fruit ices, fountain drinks and confections, making it one of the popular places of Cape Girardeau."
Several long-lasting businesses in the area became well-known landmarks of the Haarig district. In operation for decades, these establishments served generations of customers in the community. The most notable of these is the Meyer Hardware store. George Meyer and Herman Schwab established the business, called Meyer and Schwab Hardware Company, in 1900 at 626 Good Hope Street. In 1912, W.F. Suedekum purchased Schwab's share and the operation became known as Meyer and Suedekum Hardware. In 1916, W.H. Meyer had a two-story brick building erected at 620 Good Hope Street to house the business. Built with Colonial Revival influences, this building has original glazed tile detail around the window bays and a terra cotta panel inscribed "Meyer Bldg" on the upper facade. Suedekum bought out Meyer in 1926 and the name was shortened to Suedekum Hardware. The ownership returned to the Meyer family in 1982 when Robert E. Meyer purchased the business and assumed operation of the store. The name was officially changed to Meyer Supply in 1990. In operation on Good Hope Street for nearly one hundred years, the Meyer Hardware store remains a landmark business in the Haarig Commercial Historic District today. Another notable example is Unnerstall's Drug Store, which opened for business in 1927 at 626 Good Hope Street and eventually moved to 630 Good Hope Street. In operation until the late 1990s, the business remained in the Unnerstall family over generations and was a key business in the Haarig district.
The thriving commercial hub continued to grow through the 1920s and during this decade added two gas stations, a billiard hall, a fruit market, and a movie theater. The Orpheum Theater was erected at 615 Good Hope Street in 1917. This Art Deco influenced building was razed in the early 1990s and the site is now a vacant lot. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Haarig commercial area overflowed on to Sprigg Street. Buildings constructed during this period tended to be one-story buildings and reflected popular Tudor Revival and Brick Front designs. At 314-318 S. Sprigg Street a one-story Tudor Revival building with three storefronts was erected ca.1925. This building retains two original storefronts, glazed tile bulkheads, gable wall dormers, and an exterior of stucco and half-timbering. Nearby at 320-322 S. Sprigg Street, a one-story brick building was constructed ca.1930. This building retains its original storefronts with concrete and stucco bulkheads, copper and glass display windows, and original entrances and transoms. The last building to be built in the Haarig Commercial Historic District was the one-story brick building constructed ca.1935 at 326 S. Sprigg Street. This building has an original recessed storefront with black glazed tile bulkheads, and its upper facade displays rectangular and diamond shaped brick panels with soldier and sailor brick courses.
The Haarig area remained an active commercial center well into the 1960s. At this time development of suburban shopping areas began to emerge as the city's main retail centers. In order to attract customers, many business owners in the Haarig district attempted to "modernize" their storefronts by rebuilding them with modern materials. Few changes, however, were made to the upper facades of buildings. Over the years as business dwindled, some of the buildings became vacant. Presently, revitalization efforts are underway to renew Haarig as a vital commercial district. In addition to the long-standing Meyer Supply business, the buildings currently house a cultural center, hair salon, antique and second-hand shops, and an appliance rental shop.
Throughout its long commercial history, the Haarig area has provided numerous goods and services to residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. Long-standing businesses owned and operated by local German immigrants and descendants gave the area a strong ethnic and community identity. No other commercial area in Cape Girardeau became as strongly identified with the city's German heritage as Haarig. These businesses became important institutions as they served generations of residents in the surrounding Good Hope neighborhoods. The Haarig Commercial Historic District contains the last remaining cohesive group of buildings that reflect this rich history. These buildings retain much of their original design and maintain a strong sense of time and place as a turn of the century commercial center.
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† Philip Thomason, Thomason and Associates, Haarig Commercial Historic District, Cape Girardeau, MO, nomination document, 1999, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.