CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Oct. 27, 2005 – Although still two years from opening its doors, Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus, which is rising from the former St. Vincent’s College and Seminary on the banks of the Mississippi River, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, was notified of the listing last week by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ State Historic Preservation Office.
The former St. Vincent’s College and Seminary was one of four Missouri properties granted Register status on Sept. 30. The others are Kage School at 3110 Kage Rd. and Old Lorimier Cemetery at 500 N. Fountain, both in Cape Girardeau, and Moon Brothers Carriage Company Building at 1706 Delmar Blvd. in St. Louis.
Southeast submitted an application to the Missouri Historic Preservation Advisory Council earlier this year, requesting that St. Vincent’s Seminary in Cape Girardeau be listed on the National Register. The application was submitted in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, a regulation of the Department of the Interior. The University was obliged to comply with this act since it has accepted federal funds to support the River Campus project.
The site of St. Vincent’s Seminary is beautifully situated at 201 Morgan Oak Street, overlooking the Mississippi River at the foot of the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge. The seminary is the new home of Southeast’s River Campus, which will house the University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. The River Campus will include the existing structure along with 100,000 square feet of additional space with venues for fine arts, music, the Southeast Missouri Regional Museum and an Affiliated Missouri Welcome Center. The development of the property is a joint project with participation from the state of Missouri, the City of Cape Girardeau, the federal government and private donations. The River Campus is expected to open in late 2007.
St. Vincent’s College and Seminary has a long history with Cape Girardeau and the region, and was responsible for educating thousands of students, especially priests, from its inception in 1838.
St. Vincent’s College was incorporated by legislative act when the Missouri General Assembly empowered the college to grant any degree usually offered by American colleges and universities in 1843. The cornerstone for the first building at the Seminary (which housed the faculty residence and classrooms) was laid in the spring of 1843. It was one of the earliest colleges west of the Mississippi River.
During the Civil War, the college, despite its low enrollment, continued to train most of the Catholic clergy of the West. In 1871, a three-story third wing west of the dormitories was added to house a spacious chapel, the lecture room and a recreation room.
From 1910 to the early 1980s, the school operated as a seminary preparing young men aspiring for the priesthood.
The Congregation of the Mission is a Roman Catholic religious community founded by Saint Vincent de Paul in France. The Congregation founded Saint Mary’s of the Barrens Seminary in Perryville, Mo., in 1818. The Congregation has offices in Earth City, Mo.
The St. Vincent’s Seminary property is significant for its design and construction. Its architecture embodies distinctive characteristics of adaptations of the popular Georgian and Italianate architectural styles, demonstrating the transition in institutional architecture from popular 18th century Colonial American design motifs to widely accepted 19th century architectural forms, according to the application.