Old Town Cape Establishes Ivers Square United States Colored Troop Statue Endowment at Southeast

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In observance of Black History Month, Old Town Cape announced last month the funding of $10,000 to establish the Ivers Square United States Colored Troop Statue Endowment at Southeast Missouri  University Foundation. This fund will be used by the University’s Historic Preservation program in collaboration with Old Town Cape to facilitate the preservation, conservation, interpretation and display of the United States Colored Troops statue (Edition 3 of 3, Roy Butler, sculptor) located in Ivers Square in downtown Cape Girardeau.

“This is a very exciting development,” said Dr. Steven Hoffman, Historic Preservation coordinator at Southeast. “Not only does it guarantee the statue will be cared for appropriately in the future, but it will also give students in Southeast’s Historic Preservation program the opportunity to learn about preservation and conservation techniques from trained conservators in the field. In addition, students will have the opportunity to collaborate with Old Town Cape to assist with the ongoing interpretation of this important part of our community’s heritage.”

The funding of the endowment reflects Old Town Cape’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It builds on the organization’s long-standing relationship with the original donors and the downtown Cape Girardeau community where Old Town Cape established a presence more than 20 years ago.

“The establishment of this fund represents another strong collaboration between Old Town Cape and our wonderful community partner, Southeast Missouri State University,” said Liz Haynes, executive director for Old Town Cape. “This partnership benefits SEMO students, our downtown and our entire community.”

“I’m grateful for the generosity of many to be sure our public square memorializes the courageous response of our 19th century African American community,” said local historian Denise Lincoln. “It took 155 years for the historic action of enlistees from our region — to serve in United States Colored Troop regiments — to be included in our local history. Now, with a world-class statue, and an endowment to responsibly maintain it in its historical context, the future is assured that the significance of this contribution to unity and freedom becomes common
knowledge and a celebrated aspect of Cape Girardeau’s history.”

Old Town Cape, Inc. is a community driven, not-for-profit organization that utilizes the Four-Point Main Street Approach™ to preserve, promote, revitalize and enrich the historic, cultural, and economic landscape of downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The organization is a nationally accredited Main Street Program under National Main Street America, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

About the U.S. Colored Troop Statue
The installation of the USCT statue and associated interpretive signage in Ivers Square was done to promote and celebrate the community’s heritage, ethnicity, diversity, and civic pride. The Ivers Square statue was installed in honor of and symbolic of the contributions of the U.S Colored Troop soldiers who enlisted in Cape Girardeau from 1863 to 1864.

Ivers Square, designated by the City Council for the City of Cape Girardeau, in June 2017, honors the memory of Pvt. James Ivers, 56th U.S. Colored Infantry, and his wife, Harriet. Renaming the public square property formerly known simply as Courthouse Park was the first step in acknowledging the participation and sacrifice of more than two hundred men (and their families) enslaved in the region, who voluntarily enlisted between 1863 and 1864 to serve in the Union Army. Including the statue memorial to the US Colored Troops enhances the historical accuracy of southeast Missouri’s Civil War history, with acknowledgement of the men of African descent who enlisted at the same site — Cape Girardeau’s Court of Common Pleas (the provost marshal’s office for Post Cape Girardeau).

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