Work Progressing at River Campus


Photo of River Campus Progress

Progress continues on the new River Campus at the site at 201 Morgan Oak Street.


Oct. 4, 2005 – Construction crews are hard at work this fall, converting the former St. Vincent’s College and Seminary into Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

Two years from now, music, art, theatre and dance students will attend classes at the site at 201 Morgan Oak Street. The River Campus is located on 16.6 acres on the banks of the Mississippi River at the foot of the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, at what is to become Southeast’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. The River Campus will include a combination of new facilities and renovated space at a cost of about $40 million.

Over the summer, a swimming pool, shed, tennis courts and gym were demolished. Site work also was completed, and new sewers were installed on the property.

Renovations are now under way on the original L-shaped building on the property dating from 1843. The structure’s finishes have been gutted, leaving primarily a shell of a facility.

So far, about 20 construction contracts have been awarded, and, at its peak, about 150 workers will be at the site, said Lisa Howe, Southeast Facilities Management project manager.

BSI is serving as the construction management firm. Now, about 50 workers are at the site each day.

Major efforts are currently under way to fortify the walls of the structure with five- to eight-inches of shotcrete that serves as seismic reinforcement. Kiefner Brothers Construction workers have drilled some 41,000 holes in the existing walls and are using re-bar to anchor the new concrete walls to the old structure. This work also includes the filling in of 52 fireplaces that once heated the structure. The demolition and concrete support work contract totals $2.8 million.

Miller Drywall has begun erecting stud walls inside the original building where permanent walls ultimately will stand. This fall, the original L-shaped building also will receive new windows and a new roof, Howe said. Masonry work, where walls will be erected at the new theatre building, is planned for this winter.

Howe said stained glass windows in the historic seminary chapel, which is being converted into a 200-seat recital hall, will eventually be removed when work begins in that area. She said the walls in the recital hall will be covered with acoustical plaster. When work in the recital hall is complete, the original stained glass windows will be reinstalled with protective glass on both sides of them.

A 300-space asphalt parking lot is being built on the northwest corner of the property. The area currently is serving as a construction staging area, but, eventually, asphalt will be laid over the lot. Additional parking also will be available farther south at a lot off of the Fountain Street extension connecting Route 74 and Morgan Oak Street. This lot will serve visitors to the performance hall and welcome center.

The pouring of footings and foundation walls for a new performance hall is nearly complete. The construction schedule then calls for work to begin on a flex theater, a dance studio and then the new Southeast Missouri Regional Museum, Howe said. Other new construction calls for an Affiliated Missouri Welcome Center to be built on the property along with classrooms, rehearsal rooms, dance, theatre and art studios and related facilities.

The University also continues to await word regarding the property’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Howe said. The application has been approved at the state level and is still awaiting word from the federal level, she said.

Meanwhile, Zoellner Construction is nearing completion of a River Campus Terrace Park, which complements the River Campus facility. The park includes an asphalt walking trail on the lower east side of the facility along Aquamsi Street, along with benches and a pergola. The trail loops around a state champion beech tree on the northeast corner of the property, which is 16 feet in circumference, 100 feet tall and has a crown spread of 103 feet.

A 10-space parking lot has been built on the southeast corner of the property for those wishing to visit the park and walk the trail.

Southeast was awarded nearly $260,000 in federal money through the Missouri Department of Transportation for development of the Terrace Park.

Signage along the trail will provide visitors with information about the state champion beech tree on the property, Louis Houck and the railroad, Cape Girardeau river crossings, the old and new Mississippi river bridges, submarines made in Manitowoc, Wis., that traveled down the river to New Orleans, before eventually becoming part of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, St. Vincent’s College and Seminary, Cape Girardeau river commerce, and flooding in 1923.

Photo of River Campus progress.

Progress continues on the new River Campus at the site at 201 Morgan Oak Street.