University to Submit Application to List St. Vincent’s Seminary on National Register of Historic Places



April 19, 2005 – Southeast Missouri State University will submit an application to the Missouri Historic Preservation Advisory Council next month, requesting that St. Vincent’s Seminary in Cape Girardeau be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved the submission of the application.

The University is submitting the application in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, a regulation of the Department of the Interior. Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president for administration and enrollment management, said the University must comply with this act since it has accepted federal funds to support the River Campus project.

Under the act, the University is required to take certain actions to comply with the Secretary of Interior’s standards for rehabilitation of properties eligible to be listed on the National Register.

Holt said the University is required to provide complete documentation of the property according to expectations of the National Register of Historic Places. The University plans to fulfill this requirement by presenting this documentation to the Missouri Historic Preservation Advisory Council on May 20.

Missouri’s State Historical Preservation Officer, who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the act, has determined that the St. Vincent’s College property is eligible for listing on the National Register, Holt said.

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 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.